A Drone Sentry Turret is an automated and stationary weapon system used by the armed forces of the Tau and developed by the Earth Caste, like most Tau technology. All Drone Sentry Turrets contain an advanced computer processor that provides it with basic artificial intelligence much like a Tau Drone. A team of Drone Sentry Turrets can be networked together to form an artificially intelligent defensive perimeter capable of making its own decisions independently of its Tau programmers. Drone Sentry Turret networks like this will often be used to defend strategically important locations or to harass an enemy force as it moves through an area of Tau control. Drone Sentry Turrets can be equipped with a wide range of heavy Tau weaponry that are usually carried by XV8 Crisis Battlesuits.
The Drone Sentry Turret consists of a cylindrical armoured hull with a pop-up weapons turret roughly the size of a Tau Battlesuit. The armour used in its construction is made of the same nano-crystalline compound used in other Tau vehicles and Battlesuits and this makes the turret resilient to all but heavy anti-vehicle weapons. The weapons turret is usually lowered and kept inside the hull, where it remains inactive until a suitable target is identified by the turret's sensors. It then activates and elevates the turret before leveling its weaponry and firing until all enemies are eliminated, returning to its inactive posture when there are no more targets within range. Unlike Imperial Tarantula Sentry Guns, the Drone Sentry Turret's artificial intelligence is capable of making its own targeting decisions, and can effectively differentiate between friendly and enemy units. The Drone Sentry Turret's artificial intelligence can also choose to ignore some targets in favour of others which it determines are a higher priority. The turret's primary sensor cluster is mounted in between its twin-linked weapons, and the turret is capable of spinning a full 360 degrees so that it can track targets in any position.
Tau Drone Sentry Turrets are usually deployed onto a battlefield by Tau aircraft such as an Orca Dropship or a Manta that drops them into position. Pathfinder teams or Tetras equipped with Marker Lights can aid this deployment by designating target points to allow the drops to be more accurate. Each Drone Sentry Turret is equipped with a small Tau Jetpack underneath it to direct and slow its descent. Once in place, the turret will activate but remain dormant until an enemy is identified by its sensors. As Tau strategic doctrine does not usually seek to hold ground, preferring mobile warfare, Drone Sentry Turrets are commonly deployed as a Tau force advances or retreats, to guard a route that Pathfinder Teams have identified as likely to be used by enemy forces or to stall an enemy and provide a distraction. During a battle, the turrets are commonly used to help bolster a firing line and provide extra heavy firepower to Fire Warrior teams. Depending on the armament of the turret, the turret's roles range from laying down rapid anti-infantry suppressive fire with Burst Cannons to eliminating heavily armoured infantry with Plasma Rifles. However, it is often necessary for Tau forces to defend strategically important locations and rather than waste Fire Warriors with static garrison duty, the Tau will use Drones or Drone Sentry Turrets instead. As a result, Drone Sentry Turrets will often be found protecting command posts, airfields or supply bases where they reinforce defence lines or form expendable pockets of resistance that can also be used as a lure.
During the Taros Campaign, sentry turrets were commonly encountered by all the Imperium's forces. The deserts were liberally seeded with them, and since they were equipped with Disruption Pods, they were often used by the Tau forces as ambush units. The Imperial Guard's Tallarn scout units often found themselves under fire from a turret, which then had to be attacked and destroyed. Hydro-Processing Plant 23-30 was defended by many turrets, all disguised with Disruption Pods, which the aerial reconnaissance performed by the Elysian Drop Troops units deployed to Taros failed to notice. As a result, Storm Trooper squads leading the airborne attack came under heavy fire from these unidentified Tau heavy weapons, and took heavy casualties in the initial landings. The Imperium's records claim that, in total, over 200 turrets were encountered and destroyed during the fighting. While this is likely to be an inflated figure, it illustrates the wide use made of these turrets by Tau forces.
Drone Sentry Turrets can be armed with a wide array of heavy weaponry, including:
- Twin-linked Plasma Rifles - Plasma Rifles fire weaker blasts of plasma than the equivalent Imperial Plasma Guns, but are also far safer for their users. Plasma Rifles allow Drone Sentry Turrets to successfully assault enemy heavy infantry.
- Twin-linked Fusion Blasters - A Fusion Blaster is similar in function to an Imperial Melta Gun, and as such is commonly utilised by the Tau against heavy armour. These weapons can also be used to effectively kill heavily-armoured enemy infantry.
- Twin-linked Burst Cannons - A Burst Cannon is commonly used to provide rapid anti-infantry suppression fire.
- Twin-Linked Tau Missile Pods - Tau Missile Pods can fire multiple potent missiles. These missiles are effective at destroying light enemy vehicles or concentrations of enemy heavy infantry. They are also effective against large creatures, like the more massive Tyranid bioforms.
Drone Sentry Turrets can also be equipped with defensive upgrades, such as:
- Disruption Pod - A Disruption Pod is a Tau defensive technology that can display distorting holographic images in the visual and magnetic spectra to make the turret harder to target by enemy weapon systems.
- Shield Generator - A Tau Shield Generator can project a cohesive gravitic energy field around the turret that can deflect incoming fire, including blasts from heavy anti-vehicle fire.
Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical Specifications
|Serial Number:||85673-908461||Main Armament:||Can be armed with twin-linked Burst Cannons, twin-linked Plasma Rifles, twin-linked Fusion Blasters or twin-linked Missile Pods|
|Vehicle Codename:||N/A||Secondary Armament:||
|Vehicle Type:||Drone-Controlled Static Defence|
|Weight:||3 tonnes||Elevation:||+10° to -5°|
|Length:||4.5 metres||Ammunition:||2000 Rounds|
|Width:||4.5 metres||Armour Type:||Nano-Crystalline Alloy, Composition Unknown to the Adeptus Mechanicus|
|Max Recorded Speed:||N/A|
|Summary:||Drone Controlled Static Defence with Pop-Up Turret|
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 187, 285
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign (Second Edition), pp. 174-177