Handling is over-priced and under-valued; to be frank when it's a special order quality I get a bit and ACE specializes in Striders that are near the bottom of handling upgrade costs.
As correctly noted the proliferation of gadgetry underlines it's (probably excessive) bang-for-buck value. There is precedent for that though; looking at model upgrades in military aviation changes to electronics are some of the most common -what doesn't fit under the dashboard can be hung on external pods.
Tangent: maybe the hybrid-flight designs should get reduced Handling upgrades costs?
The weapon/armor/powerplant ratio seems to be pretty damn good though. I know I've spent hours agonizing over just how much plating to scrape up to make the Hoplite's weapons and turret costs balance out just right with enough left over for enough electronics to keep it from being utterly disabled by EWS tricks or the like. That design has a real vulnerability to being knocked over and to missiles, but for what I think the rest of it does that's acceptable.
Just mentally meandering now, but I wonder if the the inherent problem is that it's like trying to build a tank into a fighter jet? The problem is that if you're trying to improve a fighter improving it's flight qualities is the most overall effective set of changes to make. Trying to fit it to be more durable is generally a giant waste of energy for minuscule gains -though notable exceptions exist like the legendarily durable A-10 Thunderbolt 2.
However the A-10 isn't an air-superiority design by miles and is more like a kind of specialized helicopter than it is like the rest of it's brethren.
Hmm. Anyway, is what makes Striders work advances in weapons tech? Like I'm guessing an Abrams or Challenger-2 can't stand up to a commonplace Stormsurge payload; a tank that can't survive a direct hit is just a cost sink. So Striders are just harder to hit and more able to use terrain variations for cover.
Part of it is the broad range of possible encounters, right? This is The Bloody Dark; it's warfare in every type of terrain except the Arctic. Tanks can't stomp jungles and aircraft have monstrously high upkeep costs for the national/tribal/corporate/contractor forces involved. But you can squeeze a Scout or Light Strider in and around the trees, dip it in the lakes and trudge it up the mountains -and still massacre any idiot with an AK who decides to try himself when you arrive.
I'm guessing that that's the kind of the magic number: tough enough to laugh off HMG fire means being able to cow 90% of TBD encounters. And unlike the modern crapholes of war IED's are only of limited use because roads aren't quite as mandatory. They're still valuable and worth protecting, but just lying in wait for a fat target's less useful when A) the target's not as obliged to show up and B) isn't some national military trying to win hearts and minds and can in fact sweep for IED's or their caretakers with a flametongue.
Forgot where I was going with all that, but maybe it'll still be useful.