An Area Denial Node is a form of static heavy-weapon placement which is employed by the T'au to defend vital strategic installations. Area Denial Nodes are able to provide massive screens of anti-armour and anti-personnel fire which only the most determined of enemies will survive. All of these nodes are controlled by advanced Drone intelligences which are able to utilise the weapon’s sophisticated targeting systems to their maximum potential.
The use of Drone intelligences to coordinate the node’s weapon systems also means that the skill of Fire Warriors need not be wasted in simple garrison roles far behind the frontlines. The use of these automated weapons systems also prevents a higher cost in T'au lives, as it is far better to lose Drone-controlled weapons than risk the lives of valuable T'au warriors.
T'au strategic doctrine favours a fluid form of manoeuvre warfare over stationary defence, meaning that it is only in the most critical situations that a position will be defended to the last. The use of Area Denial Nodes allows mainline Fire Caste units to pull back safely in the face of overwhelming enemy attack, whilst still opposing the enemy's assault and punishing him for any gains he makes though the incredible firepower the nodes possess. Each node often forms part of a network of such emplacements, where the Drone intelligences can coordinate and combine the fire of solid-shot rounds from their Railguns with their neighbours.
In this way, Area Denial Nodes are capable of providing fearsome and devastating point attacks that are capable of penetrating all forms of vehicle and infantry armour. In at least a dozen reported instances during their use on the various battlegrounds of the T'au Empire, Area Denial Nodes have disabled and destroyed enemy super-heavy vehicles. It is even reported that a battery of seven nodes engaged and destroyed an Imperial Warhound Scout Titan at the Battle of Dal'yth.
All Area Denial Nodes are armed with turret-mounted, twin-linked Railguns like those mounted on other mobile heavy weapon platforms deployed by the T'au Empire. However, the Railguns mounted on these nodes are a non-standard variant that can fire solid-shot rounds with more than double the range of the Railguns mounted on other platforms, such as the XV88 Broadside Battlesuit. This allows the Area Denial Nodes to compensate for their static nature with an extreme potential threat range.
The Railguns mounted on Area Denial Nodes can also fire explosive submunition rounds, like the Hammerhead Railgun. These rounds provide area saturation fire which is extremely effective against groups of infantry. However, the dispersed nature of their ballistic pattern means that the submunition rounds' range is diminished in comparison to that of the standard, solid-shot Railgun rounds. Nevertheless, the submunition rounds still maintain the effective long-range fire of the standard Railgun.
Area Denial Nodes are also protected by a thick layer of nano-crystalline alloy armour comprised of a substance currently unknown to the Adeptus Mechanicus (equivalent to 40 millimetre composite/120 millimetre homogenous) named Fio'tak in the Tau Lexicon.
Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical Specifications
- White Dwarf 336 (UK), Area Denial Node Apocalypse Datasheet, pg. 25