I'm a returning player and I'm really digging being back. I've been messing around for about a month now and it's time to make some choices!
I have a level 50 tac captain in a defiant retrofit, a science captain that I plan on tossing in a MVAE when he hits 50 and an engineer (my main, so to speak) at 50 in an oddy. My main in the oddy is specced in the heal boat direction very much so. At this time I'm not in a fleet or doing much, if any pvp...its all STFs right now. I'm doing ok in the normal STFs in the oddy, but I can of course feel the loss of dps when I'm in it vs playing my tac in his escort. I don't want to ditch my engi though! So to move into elite STFs on the engi I'm thinking he may need to escort up. I've purchased the patrol escort for him right now, because I had a token left over...so it was a free ship, no big deal. But the Armitage really looks neat to me. How close in playstyle are they going to be? If I start in the patrol escort is transitioning to Armitage later going to be difficult?
It's not much different and a reasonably equipped Patrol escort should be more than enough if you only want to escort up for STFs.
If you want to stick in a cruiser try using three Damage Control Doffs for EPTx cycling and put a Tac officer with AP:Beta and other appropriate damage buffing skills in the Oddy's Lt.Cmdr slot. Try not to chain B:FAW's, it's "dumb" targeting produces a lot of wasted DPS in your average STF and might be part of your current problem.
The Armitage is tougher(Lt. Cmdr Eng) and gives up a Lt.Cmdr Tac power for the hanger and Lt. Cmdr Eng power.
I love my Armitage but high end Tac Slots are worth more than any other kind in a game where DPS is king. Losing a Lt. Cmdr Tac slot means certain builds and tactics are gone forever, gaining a Lt.Cmdr Eng means you're potentially tougher than other escorts depending on skill choice and power selection.
The Advanced fighters can be a powerful tool even if you use no settings other than [attack my target] and [intercept enemies], the ones bought with EC tend to be underwhelming in comparison.
As an engineer you have a lot of heals already and that Lt.Cmdr Tac slot on your Patrol escort may be hard to give up if you're currently chaining 2xAP:Omega 1 or having to choose between B:O3, T:Spread 3 or T:HY3 as the skill to give up.
P.S. The Jem'Hadar Boff with T:spread 3 and [borg] torpedoes will make some STF's much easier.