The Kir'qath (Defender)-class Starship is an Escort grade starship used by the T'au Empire's Kor'vattra, the Tau Navy. Just as the Lar'shi (Hero)-class Starship is the T'au response to the Imperial Lunar-class Cruiser, the Kir'qath is their answer to the Imperial Sword-class Frigate. The Kir'qath is the only true Escort in the Kor'vattra, and is used in squadrons to provide close support for the larger, capital-grade vessels. Its main weakness is the lengthy recharge time for its Ether Drives.
It can make up to half a dozen Warp jumps in succession but will then be unable to do any more for at least a rot'aa (approximately 15 Terran hours). This means the Kir'qath is not suitable for scouting as it either travels slowly across interstellar space or risks being unable to retreat when it arrives. This can make it a liability in rapid fleet manoeuvres. Consequently, squadrons are spread through T'au space where heavier units can call upon them for support if required.
Every Kir'qath-class Starship is armed, as standard, with a prow Railgun battery, a prow-mounted Gravitic Launcher, two defensive turrets mounted around its hull, and standard Tau starship gravitic shielding. Together, this armament allows the Kir'qath to pose a credible threat to any enemy warship the Kir'qath engages, especially in large numbers.
- Battlefleet Gothic Armada, pg. 104
- Battlefleet Gothic Magazine 19, pg. 22