It is hard, but most of the time it is easier than it looks.
A Tarsus is a smaller target, so the computer misses it more. You can carry two missile launchers, so you can kill about ten light fighters with missiles alone. The Tarsus attracts fewer asteroids (yes, in Privateer, the asteroids are actually attracted to you, watch it from the F8 perspective to watch them actually chase your ship). The Tachyon Cannon may not be as good as the book, but it is a pretty great weapon, none-the-less.
But, in the "waves of bounty hunters" missions in Palan, I couldn't do the trick. (I could use PREdit to get the Tarsus back after Palan, and even beat the Drone and the Retro "king" -- but those bounty hunter waves were too much).
Until I learned the trick:
>I beat both games with a Tarsus without cheating. Your're right, the Bounty Hunters were tough. I could only beat them by getting each wave to follow me into the asteroids.
I should have thought of that. Plot enemies will follow you out of their navigation point. Asteroids will chase down the larger and/or faster ship (and anything counts as the same size or larger than a Tarsus). So, just like you stay in the asteroids to fight Kilrathi, you can encounter the Bounty Hunters and then run for cover to the nearest asteroid belt.