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At the heart of Aurora is a naval simulation that isn't too different from modern seafaring vessels and their operations. Ships are organized in fleets, task forces and task groups. They need fuel, spare parts and ammunition. They need maintenance and repairs. The crews need a lot of training before they can be expected to perform well in a battle. And they need up-to-date information about the enemy. All that is simulated in the game.
A task force (TF) is the administrative body of a fleet. Fleet Headquarters is the name of the default starting task force, and is set on your home-planet. Headed by a Task Force Commander(CTF) and several staff officers. A quarter of the leader bonus of the Task Force commander apply to all ships in the TF, as long as he's in the same system. See Naval Organization.
A task force is divided into task groups (TGs). Your actual fleets. Ships, once built at a planet-based shipyard, are assigned to a "Task Group." Task groups are given orders which all of their ships follow as a single unit. Ships can be detached into sub-groups or assimilated into new groups at will. Task Groups are assigned to one, and only one, Task Force. Can be further subdivided into additional TGs. Can contain from one to an unlimited number of ships.
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Fleet operations in Aurora require some logistics. Military ships require a lot of regular maintenance to stay ready for action. Deployed fleet for combat or training require additional expanses, due to increased usage of fuel, ammunition and or maintenance supplies.
Long deployments times will reduce crew morale affecting the fleet combat readiness. Ship past a certain age starts costing more to maintain and will require overhauls.
If you equipped every ship with enough fuel tanks to travel halfway through the galaxy, you'd have no more room for weapons. Dito for missile reloads and spare parts (maintenance supplies). So you build specialized vessels to transport these and assign them to a task force as per your needs.
All special orders related to them are only available if you designate ship classes as tanker, supply ship or collier in the ship design window. Unlike other design parameters, you can change the designation of ship classes already in service.
You can also build maintenance ships which contain Maintenance Modules instead of performing standard maintenance at a base.
Formations allow you to split a Task Group into several parts which travel together, but keep a predetermined distance from the main group.