It seems their only purpose is to allow ships to chase enemies who are running away into hyperspace. But 99% of the time, it seems that if your enemy has went into hyperspace you will not catch them.
Once you arrive in a system, you can see everything in the system as a player anyway, so I don't really see a point to having one on most of your ships. The manual does say that it may make the AI smarter about engaging system targets, but has this been tested?
Automated fleets set to engage system targets will prove very effective at deterring
aggression, especially if they have proximity scanners and you have a nearby base
with a long range scanner to give them some warning of approaching enemies.
Also, does it serve any other function like giving you an earlier warning that a ship is under attack? I find the AI puts them on my explorer ships. Does it allow explorers "notice" enemies sooner and use the escape function? If that's the case, they may be worth more than an extra shield or engine. But if not, they are probably a waste of money.
Proximity Arrays enable a ship or base to ‘see’ other ships or bases within scanner range. This provides a radar-like capability.
They also allow tracking of a target as it jumps into hyperspace. This improves the ability to pursue an enemy if it flees battle.
Higher proximity array technology levels provide components with increased scan range and better hyperjump tracking.
Note that you can always see ships or bases that are in the same system as you.
Galatopedia isn't clear as about whether it's just you the player who can see everything in a system or if your AI ships controlled ships have the same level of awareness about enemy targets. For instance you can see that a construction ship can build something in the same system as an enemy military ship, but it will flee eventually if the enemy gets close enough.
< Message edited by invaderzim -- 6/8/2013 4:20:47 PM >