-[ Angelwing ]-
Swap 2x Bubble Energy Shell for 2x Delektron Shell, swap 1x Sickle Gunboat for 1x Scythe Gunboat
-[ Brutus ]-
Swap 1x Bubble Energy Shell with 1x Delektron Shell, 1x Partical Gatling Gun for a Volcano Plasma Gun, 2x L2 Fusion Support Generator for 2x L2 Quark Support Generator, 1x Electron Cell for 1x Plasma Cell
-[ Sparta ]-
Swap 1x Bubble Energy Shell for 1x Delektron Shell, 1x Particle Gatling Gun for 1x Volcano Plasma Gun, add 2x Flash Fighter (replace squadrons if you have to)
-[ Avalanche ]-
Swap 2x Particle Gatling Gun and 2x Magma Plasma Gun for 4x Anti-G Railgun, swap 1x L2 Fusion Support Generator for 1x L2 Quark Support Generator, 2x Electron Cell for 2x Plasma Cell, 1x Standard ECM System for 1x Torsion ECM System
If you wish to make the next mission much easier, load all of your ships with as many Burningfist Heavy Lasers as you have. Make sure you have some hull destroying weapons if you plan on taking out any of the enemy ships, but it isn't necessary if you're just going to go after subsystems (which is by far the most recommended approach -- destroying ships can make the next mission crash to desktop). I wouldn't recommend using Crystalpin Light Lasers as they cannot penetrate the enemy's shields. They will work once shields have dropped, but they're not really worth the slot.
You should have a skill point to spend, I suggest bumping up the Military stat.
I have split this mission into two sections. The first section just deals with completing your mission objectives and nothing more. If you want to make the next mission easier, check out part two of this mission strategy.
Mission Strategy #1
This mission is pretty simple and straight-forward. Just scan all the ships and survive, and that's it.
Start off by scanning the Pathfinder, then the Starblazer, then finally the Serenity. You can use your Energy Skeeter (use special weapons, F9) on the Mechanoid if it's getting on your nerves, but it just recharges anyway. You must wait until each ship is fully scanned.
After that, you can leave the system by engaging your IP Drive (F12).
Mission Strategy #2
Destroying entire ships has been known to cause the next mission to fail. The 3 main enemy ships, the Pathfinder, Starblazer and Serenity are part of the next mission. Due to some obvious scripting errors by the developers, destroying any or all of these ships WILL cause the next mission to crash. I strongly suggest you do NOT destroy any of the ships, just focus on subsystems and the Mechanoids, then depart the sector via your IP Drives (F12).
There are some things to note before we begin. I have ran through this mission several times. And I do mean several. On the order of 20, at least, trying to figure out how much you can destroy without causing the next mission to crash. So far it seems just the destruction of the ships causes the crash but I've heard rumors that destroying shields and/or engines can have the same effect. I have NOT confirmed that, though. The game has only crashed for me if I have destroyed any of the ships.
Furthermore, destroying any of the ships IP Drives can, at times, cause the remaning ships to warp out of the sector. That means, under no circumstances, should you destroy ANY IP Drive device until you've taken out subsystems on all the ships.
Now let's get into it. I've figured out the precise order to do things in this mission so that you can scan all the ships, kill all the Mechanoids and destroy every single subsystem on every ship (and blow up all the ships without any leaving, if you really wanted to -- but don't!).
First, use only the Angelwing for now. Leave your other ships just where they are. If they get too close to any enemy ship or structure, you will be detected prematurely and there's a good chance one or more of the Mechanoids will blast your fleet to bits.
Before you even move, set all of your ships to Focused behaviour mode. Then, take the Angelwing and use the Datascanner (F10) on the closest ship to you, which is the Pathfinder. Once you've scanned it, check the Devices list, under the Support tab and click the "Armageddon" device. This is the ships weapons energy generator. It should be flashing. Now scan the Starblazer. Ignore any Mechanoids or ships at this point. Make sure you select the Armageddon device for the Starblazer, too. Sometimes it won't show up until the scan has been completed.
Once the Pathfinder and Starblazer have been scanned, move onto the Serenity. The Serenity is a big ship and will take much longer to scan than the other two. Just wait it out, the Mechanoid shouldn't really be all that damaging at this point. When the Serenity is scanned, don't forget to select it's Armageddon device from the Devices list as well.
Now comes the fun part. We're going to blow stuff up now. You should have one annoying Mechanoid following the Angelwing around. Have your remaining ships target devices on the Pathfinder (which is closest to them, and the farthest from the other enemy ships -- this is important!). Then send in the Angelwing to target devices (F6) on the Pathfinder as well. Let the Mechanoid follow you around.
Once all of your ships are attacking the Pathfinder (they should be focusing their attacks on the Armageddon device only), wait for the Armageddon to become disabled (it's healthbar turns red). Send your Gunboats in after it's disabled and they'll take it out the rest of the way. Now you can use your Energy Skeeter on the Mechanoid. Since the Pathfinder has no weapons anymore, it cannot recharge the Mechanoid and you can kill it. Several other Mechanoids may activate at this time, and they will recharge each other, but if you kill them fast enough you can wipe them all out. DO NOT move away from the Pathfinder until you've dealt with all the Mechanoids.
You can continue destroying devices without interruption at this point. Now select the Shields device and destroy that. Once the shields are down, send any fighters you have against the Pathfinder. The only subsystems you really need to take out at this point are Shields and Engines. You can destroy the rest, but it really makes no difference. Weapons are useless without the Armageddon. The other support systems make no real difference. But you can blow up everything if you want.
After the Pathfinder is out of commission, move on to the Starblazer and finally the Serenity. Repeat the strategy you used on the Pathfinder and you'll be fine. Just remember, you should dock all of your fighters and gunboats before moving on to a ship that has weapons (ie. Armageddon device wasn't destroyed yet). This way they don't die to the flak systems.
One thing to note here is how you can pretty much adjust the difficulty of the next mission on your own. Depending on what you destroy (or don't) can make the next mission easier or harder. Don't want it too easy? Just take out the Armageddon. Want to have all the time in the world on the next mission? Just take out engines. The Vardrag ships have some really strong hulls and shields, so you may want to consider taking out at least the Shields device, but really, it's all up to you.
Once you're done blowing the ships apart from the inside out, use your IP Drives to leave the sector and complete the mission.
(Much thanks to MouseNo4, NightStalker and Pierce for helping me develop this strategy. They all had many different, good ideas, and I've combined their thoughts and ideas into one nice, do-everything strategy!)