Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I have to say, the WC2-Armada-WC3 transition is definitely one of the most fascinating topics for speculation that we still have left. It's just such a big unknown - did the people at Origin simply make a big mess, coming up with new stats willy-nilly? To what degree were these changes inspired by Privateer? We'll never know the answers to the production-side questions, and in a way, this frees us up to come up with creative ways to bridge the gaps between these games. What exactly do we see in Armada - is it a transition period between WC2 and WC3, or is it a kind of side-branch where all we see are special spec ops ships? For example, it could be that the use of plasteel (and in such small thicknesses, as if there was no advantage to be gained from higher armour strenght) was made necessary by jump capabilities: Armada is the only example where ships seem to be able to jump an infinite number of times without refuelling.
There's a strong precedent for the Armada versions of the ships to be largely "spec ops" or other special variants. Secret Ops' TCS Cerberus was full of them. At a minimum, it could make sense that they're long-range scout versions due to the nature of the mission. In the novels we see ships like the Sabre used as a long-distance multi-system shuttle.