Within Combat there are multiple roles a commander can take, such as Assassin, Mercenary and Bounty Hunter. To increase one's combat rank, one needs to kill other Ships, where killing higher-ranked pilots increases your rank faster. Combat uses Hardpoints to disable a target shield, and then deal damage to the hull and destroy the targeted ship. Combat can be in a Wing, by oneself, or in Multicrew. The combat rank is what is seen when selecting an NPC or CMDR, and when other CMDRs select you.
Combat works slightly differently, this is done on the number of kills, but the points you get for each kill are based on the combat rank of the target relative to your combat rank so if you are harmless and kill an Elite ship you will get a large number of points, for example, if you are Deadly and kill a ship below Expert you will not get any.
— Unnamed developer
This table is the current data of what experience points you earn for killing target ships with certain ranks.
|Target Rank||Player Rank|
It takes approximately 2225 experience points to go from Deadly to Elite combat ranking. This equals 1780 Elite kills, or approximately 2400 kills based on a more average distribution of ships.
If a player has crew members (including AI crew members), combat experience points will be split amongst them. The exact split is unknown, though having one AI crew member roughly halves the experience points gained, doubling the number of kills required in order to rank up.