perhaps you may ask why would anyone would add a new missile ship component knowing perfectly well that they got so many missile designs.
Well, guess your in for a treat
the long range missiles are designed to snipe out the weakest ships before they get a chance to battle with you. They differ from your standard missile weapons thus you need a separate research tree to unlock their potential
Basically you know in GCII has a sniper ship that can't do shit, well this solves the problem nicely. This sniping ships shoots super fast missiles assisted by the ships on board hyper drive a few tiles away and generally come in smaller payloads. However most missiles have enough fuel to go x number of tiles and a y amount of firepower.
EX. The earliest missile has a range of 2 tiles and a payload of 2 missile damage.
if this ship targets a vulnerable solo ship, then it is a matter of if it survives or dies.
if the tile has a fleet on it, chances are it will target the ship most vulnerable or unable to defend against missiles at all and attempt to soften it or take it out entirely.
Tech will improve the strength and range of these missiles, so they become more useful later in the game depending on your opponents ship design
Also note that there is potential that beam weapons may be used to go farther as they already go to the speed of light. but that is another topic for another time.
Note: You need a hyper drive for it to work, and generally if you have a hyper drive that cannot bend as far as the missile will allow it, it may also limit how far the missile will go.
Concept Art: OLD PICTURE
Concept Art: NEW PICTURE (Its the hexagon, big difference )