Consider a battle between Undine-class jumpcruisers (R: 20) and HEL cannons (R: 15). When attacking, the Undines will select a target orbit. On the way down to the target orbit, the Undines will fire (and hit) at the HEL cannons. Once the Undines reach the target orbit, the HEL cannons are able to shoot back, indicating that the Undines are closer than they need to (and should) be.
Yeah, it seems like they are either using the pre-revision ranges for calculating orbits or (more likely) the rules for picking orbits do not reflect ships' maximum range. Unless this is intentional, to prevent completely casualty-free combat?
In a few cases, like if enemy fleets are inbound AND the attacking fleet substantially outguns the defenses, it does make logical sense for fleets to orbit within range of defenses so that they can destroy the defenses faster and get transports down before reinforcements arrives. But this should probably not be the default.
Maybe there could be different attack stances - ordering an aggressive attack would makes ships orbit close-in, while a cautious attack would only commit long-range forces at maximum range.
Unless this is intentional, to prevent completely casualty-free combat?
Probably not. The Undines will not get shot at when attacking GDM's (R: 10)