Well, tactical surprise (as opposed to strategic surprise, which is nearly impossible to achieve) is something you always strive for in an attack without exception (whether you get it or not is different). While it won't decide the course of a war, it can decide a skirmish.
Anyway... how is your carrier going to protect itself against bigger menaces? No, not Sobeks and such or Orions... I'm talking about a real ship crusher like the Ravana and the mother of them all, the Sathanas? How many bomber would you need to take them down, considering they too have a fighter escort, after all they are hybrids?
Now, if a Ravana jumped in on your Orion, how long would your orion survive? I'd say 5 minutes tops. A tactical surprise attack would result in defeat for almost any destroyer vs destroyer conflict.
A better question to ask is: which would inflict more damage back?
Assuming destroyer would be able to launch a full wing from each fighter launchbay every minute, a Hatshepsut would be able to launch 10 wings. It would also fire back with its beams until it dies.
A carrier would have at least 4 fighter launchbays even if it was half the size of the Hatshepsut (and I personally think it would have more). That's twice the bombers and fighters launch. In addition, while the Ravana blows the carrier to smithereens, the support corvettes and cruisers have time to flank the Ravana (they'll die too, but the point is that they'll get in some hits too).
It seems likely that both scenarios would result in moderate damage to the Ravana.
In any case, before going with this, I want to know what people think about this: would a carrier have _more_ armor than a destroyer of equivalent size and tonnage?
At first glance one would think that the carrier would obviously be less armored, but that might not be the case.
First of all, the carrier _can_ have heavy armor plating. There's absolutely no reason why a carrier would need a runway in space. It would basically be a box engines strapped on and holes cut-out at various places to allow fighters and bombers to be launched. Any place that's not an engine port or fighter launchbay has no reason not to be covered with as much armor as the structure could support.
But can a carrier actually carry a lot of armor? That's a good question and something that needs to be decided.
First, let's look at the weight savings of a carrier over a destroyer. With the advent of beam weaponry, the power consumption of destroyers have increased tremendously. In fact, the Typhon destroyer, dominant before beam weaponry, suffered from reactor problems when retrofitted with beam weaponry.
A carrier would carry next to no weaponry besides a few flak turrets to protect fighter launchbays and the engines.
The amounts to a huge space and weight savings in reactors. Therefore, a carrier of similar size and engine capabilities to a destroyer would have comparatively more leeway to carry more armour plating.
The same carrier would also be carrying a much larger complement of fighters, bombers, armaments and their support crews and equipment.
This is all extra weight and space being used up.
Note that the number of decks is reduced since fighterbays are more large.
This means that a carrier of a similar size to a destroyer would require less material to construct while having equivalent amounts of armor.
Now here's something I thought up. Wouldn't a carrier be harder to kill using beam weaponry than a destroyer?
A destroyer has power conduits carrying large amounts of power throughout the ship to energize the various weapons and to service the fighters. A carrier carries a relatively small amount of energy to service a greater number of fighters.
These power conduits are, more likely than not, volatile.
Whereas a beam punching a hole through most points of the destroyer could potentially cause a cascading reaction through the power system, a beam through a fighterbay of a carrier would be a hole. The fighters can still manual launch. It's inconvenient but not quite as deadly. A beam through the bridge or reactor would still be just as deadly, but the carrier can afford to allocate more armor to those areas than a destroyer would.
So while it's easy to imagine a carrier to be a soft target, it _may_ be a pretty tough nut to crack.