Well, lets see here, when you compare the cuddas you net the following changes from the "light cudda" to the 'heavy cudda"
45 point investment
Transition from "empty" FA slot (as markers are gotten from formations these days) to contested HS slot.
Positives: gotta split it to catagories because these are many small things.
+1 HP (much needed breathing room)
The shield (6+ invul against pens, 5+ invul against glances, doesn't sound like much on a jet that is likely to jink anyway due to Agile USR)
Burst cannons upgraded to Long-Barrel Burst Cannons (50% additional output from them, and better range. cool.)
LBBC can be upgraded to CIBs for 5 points each (I highly question the value here, the CIBS are worth more than 5 over BC on suits, but over a LBBC? not sure its even an upgrade any more. CIB is indeed identical or superior against all but T5 or lower targets that do not have a 4+ save, but the range difference exists, and the CIB's advantage is never big)
May take free HBC instead of IC. (again, not sure I'd want to. the HBC is indeed better against everything except 3+ save or AV13, but 3+ saves is exactly where FMCs are. and I've got issues with that point-blank range.)
May take the swiftstrike railgun for 20. (flying railgun, now that's something!. unfortunatly, its only really better than the "free" main guns against 2+ saves, AV13 and T9. non are your desired targets. I deem this "never worth")
Everything else is identical.
So, overall, 45 points "upgrade" over the "light" cudda, is it worth it?
I'd probably stick burst-ion configuration anyway. so I paid 45 points and a "better" slot in order to gain BC->LBBC, strafing run, 1 HP and the shield. how do they value?
I value the shield at 25 points. 50% increased "wounds" is worth about 20% of the model's value.
Strafing run is +1BS against ground targets. its not as if we are lacking in ways to boost anti-ground BS. 5 points is pushing it.
x2 BC->LBBC, we are netting 4 more S5AP5 shots, and longer operation ranges. would I agree to pay 10 points for each gun upgraded this way.
The shield is so minor and insignificant it only ever triggers against things that ignore cover due to Agile encouraging jink, and even than rarely. 5 points, and that's pushing it.
So, I pay 45 points for upgrades I deem worthy to pay 55 for as a "package deal". not bad overall if I can afford the HS slots.
Actually, well done FW, making an alternative without either one being clearly superior to the other.
And it also unlocks an alternate setup-CIBs and HBC to have a "flying ram" of sorts. mere 18" full power range, but god save you if you are on the receiving end of this. (AV 10 is statistically dead even with jink, AV11 close call even with jink, AV12 takes almost half its HP down even with jink and close call without, if AV13 jets were a thing it would be bad, but there are none I am aware of. As for T targets, won't be great against FMCs, but if you got 4+ or worse, you are getting hammered)
As for the HS transition.
Actually, I'm not even mad. that's potentially an UPSIDE.
After all, I mostly bring a CAD along my formation in order to have room for my tetras, so my FA is taken.
But if the jets are HS, I can bring along a CAD to bring both the tetras, and some jets. win for everyone!
And the "strike cadre" deal suggest an incoming formation as well.
With costs DOUBLE that of a shark however, I'm not buying one. may be converting one, but not buying. despite how amazing it looks.
On relevant news-remoras were too designated as strike-fighters. with DFTS rules active (and they might become standard-issue come 8th), so they might be worth hanging on to.