A few things I've noticed:
1> Trying to get effective standings to improve with an agent when your faction standings start at almost 6.0 takes a while, even with level 3 missions.
2> Assault Cruisers just plain munch level 3 missions, especially against their resist-heavy damage types.
3> The Ishtar can probably passive shield tank a few of the lighter level 3 missions.
4> I want access to more ships and equipment.
5> Scanner probe and probe launcher production is a massive profit venture (especially with mining and mission drop reprocessing providing the necessary resources).