The KV128 Stormsurge is the first in a new breed of Tau super-heavy war assets known as Ballistic Suits. Towering colossi of destruction, KV128 Stormsurges carry the firepower to annihilate whole columns of tanks, or fell super-heavy walkers with a single earth-shaking volley. Rushed to the front of the escalating Third Sphere Expansion campaigns against the Imperium, these mobile bastions have swiftly proved their worth against the heavy armour of the foe. Though not as swift or agile as the XV104 Riptide Battlesuit, a single KV128 Stormsurge can alter the course of a battle in solar seconds. Its armoured resilience and phenomenal firepower make it equally lethal in attack or defence.
Developed by the noted Earth Caste weapons scientist Fio'o Bork'an Ishu'ron, KV128 Stormsurges are massive bipedal weapons platforms that are an answer to the super-heavy war engines of the Tau's foes. O'Ishu'ron recognised that even heavy Battlesuits and aircraft such as the Heavy Railgun-toting Tiger Shark AX-1-0 could be outgunned by the Imperium's Titan-class combat walkers. Furthermore, when the enemy deployed their mightiest war machines en masse -- as was the case during the war for Dal'yth and the Great War of Confederation -- all the Railguns and Seeker Missiles in the Empire could not prevent the Fire Caste from sustaining heavy casualties. O'Ishu'ron, however, had a solution -- the pinpoint application of overwhelming force.
When Fio'o Ishu'ron created the KV128 Stormsurge, it was his intention that it would not be fielded as a Battlesuit. Armed with weapons on a scale more commonly seen on starships, and with a host of secondary support systems, the Stormsurge was too cumbersome to be equipped with a Jetpack, thereby excluding it from the style of fluid, mobile warfare practiced by Battlesuit teams. Instead, Fio'o Ishu'ron saw the Stormsurge as a walking tank that would support the main advance rather than lead it, an unsubtle colossus bristling with weapons that could be deployed against targets too large or too numerous to be tackled with conventional tactics. The differences between the Ballistic Suit and the Battlesuit are emphasised by the fact it has two crew, like a Hammerhead gunship. The Stormsurge also requires so much power for its weapons that it has two reactors: one uprated Battlesuit reactor, and a high output, slow-charge reactor to power the main weapon systems.
Each KV128 is essentially an enormous walking gun-tower, whose purpose is to anchor the Fire Caste battle line; serving as a mobile strongpoint by laying down an insurmountable weight of covering fire. To this end, the Ballistic Suit is fitted with a secondary generator specifically to power its Titan-killing weaponry, and is regularly used as a platform to field-test experimental Tau weapons so heavy they have previously only been seen in use on spacecraft. Most KV128 Stormsurges are operated by a carefully selected pairing of veteran Hammerhead crewmen who have graduated through the Ballistic Suit academies on Bork'an, although some KV128s are piloted by veteran Fire Warriors with great experience commanding Tau Battlesuits or tanks. The prestige of operating a Ballistic Suit is not equal to that of donning the Hero's Mantle, but the steely-eyed graduates of the so-called Ves'oni'vash -- or "giantmaker academy" -- are honoured by Fire Warriors for the countless lives they save. Working as a seamless team, the Shas'vre crew operate their towering suit, one piloting the Stormsurge while the other monitors, aims, and fires its weapons systems. In order to keep pace with the fluid strategies of the Tau, teams consisting of up to three Ballistic Suits are mag-lifted into battle beneath specifically modified Manta Missile Destroyers. Once deployed, the KV128 Stormsurges stomps into position and fires its stabilising anchors, locking the enormous Ballistic Suits into the ground while the gunners divert all power to their apocalyptic arsenal of weaponry. They then unleash their incredible firepower, annihilating their designated targets before being lifted away once more.
- Heavy Retribution Cadre - Heavy Retribution Cadres consist of a squad of XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuits working in tandem with two units of KV128 Stormsurge Ballistic Suits, with the XV95 Ghostkeels acting as invisible forward spotters that feed targeting data back to the Stormsurges. Thus, when a Heavy Retribution Cadre opens fire, the blinding firestorm produced is truly terrifying. Even the most colossal enemies stand little chance when caught amid this sudden monsoon of destruction.
Standing even taller than an XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit, KV128 Stormsurges are true behemoths to behold on the battlefield. Whilst too heavy to mount a Jetpack like most Tau Battlesuits, the KV128 Stormsurge incorporates the advanced sensors common to all Tau Battlesuits built into its primary sensor array. These sensors and intelligent systems allow for the user to gather more accurate battlefield data which can assist informed decision-making on where to best deploy to maximise the Ballistic Suit's tactical effectiveness. All KV128 Stormsurges are also equipped with a Blacksun Filter, which is an advanced optical system that enhances and magnifies the pilots' low-light vision whilst simultaneously filtering bright flares of light that could blind them in battle, and a Multi-Tracker, which assists the Ballistic Suit pilots in engaging enemy threats by using multiple armaments at once, making them formidable opponents in a wide variety of battle conditions. As with Tau Battlesuits, KV128 Stormsurges are constructed out of a lightweight yet strong nano-crystalline alloy called Fio'tak in the Tau Lexicon, which is light, malleable, impact-and corrosive-resistant, reducing the weight of the Ballistic Suit whilst also providing excellent protection. Even the armour's shape helps deflect solid projectiles, while a reflective liquid metal coating can reflect medium-grade laser fire.
As befits their size, KV128 Stormsurges are armed with a fearsome array of weapon systems. Most powerful of these is their single primary weapon system, either a Pulse Driver Cannon or Pulse Blastcannon. These weapons are some of the largest Pulse Weapons at the Tau's disposal, employing superheated plasma on a different scale altogether, leaving only glowing craters to mark where victims once stood. Whereas the Pulse Driver Cannon utilises pulse induction fields to propel huge bursts of plasma over great distances, the Pulse Blastcannon employs Aggressive Reactive Charge technology (A.R.C) to hyper-accelerate plasma into the enemy. Its shot disperses over a wider area the further away the target is. As secondary weapon systems, KV128 Stormsurges typically mount a set of twin-linked Smart Missile Systems, and a twin-linked set of either Flamers, Burst Cannons or Airbursting Fragmentation Projectors. As well as these, KV128 Stormsurges further wield a Cluster Rocket System which can saturate enemy ranks with salvos of Drone-guided warheads, and four Destroyer Missiles; an advanced form of the more common Seeker Missile piloted by an artificial intelligence (AI) targeting system so they strike with millimetric precision. In order to further bolster their effectiveness in battle, KV128 Stormsurges are able to fit up to three scaled-up Battlesuit Support Systems within their chassis.
Available KV128 Stormsurge Support Systems
Below is a list of the most common available support systems that a KV128 Stormsurge can be armed with:
- Advanced Targeting System - An Advanced Targeting System is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the Ballistic Suit pilots to automatically identify and pick out priority targets in the midst of combat.
- Counterfire Defence System - A Counterfire Defence System is a valuable artificial intelligence sensor suite first designed to counter the threat of charging Ork hordes. It incorporates logic circuits to ensure that assaulting enemies are met with a withering curtain of unerringly accurate firepower.
- Early Warning Override - An Early Warning Override sensor suite is calibrated to detect the electronic signatures of teleport beams and orbital-entry jump systems, and jolt the Ballistic Suit's weapon systems to lock-on status before the target has a chance to react.
- Positional Relay - A Positional Relay digitally records detailed battlefield data and relays it in a tight encrypted radio burst to assets in orbit and squads held in reserve. Information sent usually includes battlefield terrain and status reports to allow the incoming units to make a better decision on where to deploy onto the battlefield and coordinate their actions as part of the overall combat strategy.
- Shield Generator - The Ballistic Suit's Shield Generators project cohesive energy fields around the suit that can deflect weapons fire and melee blows that would otherwise destroy the Ballistic Suit outright, whether such incoming fire be shots from heavy ordnance or anti-tank weapons.
- Target Lock - A Target Lock is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the user to engage different targets from the rest of the squad.
- Velocity Tracker - The advanced motion detection and infra-red sensor systems built into a Velocity Tracker allows Ballistic Suit pilots to track the movements of airborne targets and effectively engage them with the suit's weapons.
- Codex: Tau Empire (7th Edition), pp. 32, 51, 103, 106, 116-118, 121-124
- War Zone Damocles: Kauyon (7th Edition), pp. 93-96
- White Dwarf Weekly Magazine 88 (October 3, 2015) "KV128 Stormsurge, " pp. 2-8