Well, this is what it looks like right now:
something like a Dralthi would look like this, optionwise:
You can see to the left there - it's got the ship root, with all the settings, the graphical billboard that has the sprites, two engine flares, and two guns. The scripts auto-find and hook up all that stuff - you can add as many guns of whatever type whereever on the ship and it will fire them and manage them. same with drive flares - they'll change intensity based on the throttle and burn brighter in afterburning, etc.
As yo ucan see, this doesn't really need you to use sprite-based ships at all - that could be just a model. The ship settings are the same for players or ais. It's just a set of inputs and values that everyone can read from. You put a cockpit model as a child to that ship, the shield displays will "see" the ships values. I'm trying to make this as easy to mess with as possible.
Here's some of the code I've written for this:
I've commented the logic of the code, it's pretty easy to follow. the latest versions of Unity + VS are just wonderful to code with. everythings tracked and referenced - it's a lot more fun than it used to be.
Anyhow, - I expect it to be fairly easy to add new ships, new cockpits - it's designed to be as agnostic as possible with regard to *What* is being added, as long as it's named properly.
I hope this helps?