A Tau Piranha moving as part of a scouting force during the Taros Campaign

The Tau "Piranha" is a light combat scout skimmer used by the Tau Fire Caste. Its default armament is a Burst Cannon and two Gun Drones, similar to the Devilfish. It is sometimes fitted with a Fusion Blaster instead of a Burst Cannon, allowing it to fill a tank-hunter role on the battlefield. It can also be equipped with up to 2 Seeker Missiles, allowing Tau Pathfinder Teams to guide its missiles to armoured targets. The first time the Piranha was encountered by the Imperium, it was used as a diplomatic transport by the Water Caste. During the Taros Campaign, it was field-tested as a military vehicle, and proved notably successful as an asset for Pathfinder Teams. It normally carries a crew of 2, a driver and a weapons operator. The weapons operator seat can also be used as a passenger seat.


During the Taros Campaign's Battle for Hydro Processing Plant 23-30, Piranhas were widely deployed in support of Remote Sensor Towers already in the area to provide Seeker Missile support. This caused the 114th Cadian Regiment's relief column to be constantly harassed by missile strikes and day long battles were fought between Chimeras and Piranhas. This led to the relief column being delayed long enough for Tau Hunter Cadres to overrun the plant. Piranhas also played an important role in the desert warfare on Taros, harassing enemy forces with the support of Hunter Cadres and eventually pursuing the Tallarn regiments of the Imperial Guard as they withdrew back to their landing zones in the closing stages of the campaign.



A Tau Piranha armed with a Burst Cannon and 2 Gun Drones

The design of the Piranha consists of a central, open-topped chassis that can seat two crew members. Two engine thrusters are mounted on the sides of the main body, with two winglets mounted on the sides of the engines in turn. Each of these winglets fufill a similar role as the lift fins on the Devilfish chassis, providing extra lift to keep the vehicle off the ground and also providing space for two recesess, each equipped with a Gun Drone. Mounted on the front of the central section of the Piranha is a chin turret, which can be fitted with a Burst Cannon or a Fusion Blaster. The Piranha carries two crewmen. The crew member in the front seat is the pilot, while the crew member behind him operates the chin-mounted weapons system. However, when the Piranha is used in a non-combat role, the second seat is often given to an important passenger such as an Ethereal.

Combat Role

The Piranha was initially identified by the Imperium during a diplomatic mission on the Sept World of Dal'yth, where it was being used as an unarmed transport vehicle. It was during the Taros Campaign that it was first seen used in a military application and was subsequently code-named the "Piranha". It has since been upgraded with armour and armament and usually is found supporting Hunter Cadres in the niche role of acting as a light combat, raiding, and reconnaissance vehicle that can harass infantry and armour alike. It also commonly clashes with enemy scout forces during missions, and has been used by the Tau to provide armoured fire support in defence of an area by acting as part of a rapid-response force of Tau Pathfinders. In a reconnaissance role, the Piranha is a direct match to a Imperial Guard Salamander as it can tackle other light vehicles. This is a desirable asset due to first contact with an enemy often being a clash between scout forces. It is thought that the Fire Caste observed and learnt from the Imperial Guard's deployment of Salamanders and adapted the tactic for their Piranhas. However, this is pure speculation. Piranhas are also commonly equipped with potent Seeker Missiles, allowing them to strike at enemy armour from long range with the support of other Tau units outfitted with Marker Lights, such as Pathfinders. Piranhas are lightly armoured, however, and their only true defence is their speed and manoeuvrability. In peacetime, the Piranha can also fufill the role of an armoured personnel carrier, transporting important Tau diplomatic officials and Ethereals. Piranhas have also been identified operating as armoured support for teams guarding important strategic locations such as Tau airfields, where they act as a rapid response force. In this way, they act as security where heavier combat vehicles are not generally required. Piranhas can often be found alone or in squadrons of up to three.

Known Formations

  • Firestream Piranha Wing - When a number of Tau Hunter Cadres fight together, they make use of a higher-level scouting force consisting of a number of Piranha squadrons. These so-called 'Firestream' Sings are often called 'Piranha Swarms' by Imperial troops. The are responsible for not only scouting terrain ahead of a multi-cadre force, but also disrupting enemy forces. The primary fucntion of a Firestream Piranha Wing is to hunt and eliminate isolated enemy forces. These Piranhas are often fitted with Seeker Missiles, and their chin-mounted Burst Cannon is often replaced with Fusion Blasters. This makes them exceptionally lethal armour hunters, especially when homing in on Marker Light targets acquired by other units. For this reason, the wing often includes a Tetra scout speeder team to support them in their hunt. The Firesteam Wing's secondary function is to disrupt the deployment of enemy forces. They achieve this through a highly complex communications array mounted upon the wing's command vehicle. This array gathers sensor data from all of the Piranhas in the wing, and decrypts any communications it intercepts and identifies. The orders contained in the signal are alterd, the encryption re-applied, and the signal reconstructed before being transmitted onwards to the intended recipient. Should the signal prove impossible to replicate, the system is capable of jamming any typer of communication it can detect. The re-transmitted signal is intended to disrupt enemy orders, changing dispositions without the enemy command being away of the subterfuge. Enemy units will often find themselves deployed kilometres out of line, and either ambushed or unable to take part in the battle. Soon, the entire enemy army is in disarray, allowing the wing and following Tau units to engage the enemy entirely on their own terms. The Tau have become so adepts at this process that they can analyse and jam almost any signal, and succeed in disrupting even entirely alien forces.


A Piranha is primarily armed with a chin-mounted weapon, which can either be a Burst Cannon, which provides rapid-firing anti-infantry fire, allowing the Piranha to harass enemy infantry, or a Fusion Blaster, which changes the Piranha's role to a tank-hunter that can take down a range of light and heavy vehicles. Piranhas also can carry two Gun Drones in its front wing recesses providing extra firepower with their twin-linked Pulse Carbines. These Gun Drones can also disengage from the Piranha to move off by themselves. Piranhas can also have up to two Seeker Missiles which are fired and guided by Marker Lights.

Piranhas can be equipped with any of the following Tau vehicle upgrade systems:

  • Blacksun Filter - Blacksun Filters allow the vehicle's gunners to accurately see and target enemies in low-light conditions.
  • Decoy Launchers - Decoy Launchers are a form of defensive measure that is mounted near the engines. They are capable of firing clouds of reflective strips and sophisticated electronic decoys, which are combined with flare and chaff launchers to protect the tank's thruster arrays.
  • Disruption Pods - Disruption Pods display distorting holographic images in the visual and magnetic spectra to make the vehicle harder to target.
  • Flechette Dischargers - Flechette Dischargers line the hull and fire high-velocity flechettes at infantry which try to assault the vehicle.
  • Multi Tracker - A Multi Tracker consists of advanced stabilisers that allow the vehicle to fire accurately even while moving at speed.
  • Sensor Spines - Sensor Spines feed data to an advanced ground-following flight control system. This allows the vehicle to avoid hazardous terrain that could otherwise damage the vehicle's drive systems.
  • Target Lock - A Target Lock computer automatically identifies potential targets and plots fire plans accordingly. This grants the gunners more choice and accuracy in engaging various targets.
  • Targeting Array - Computer-aided Targeting Arrays are sophisticated targeting systems that aid the gunners' aim in firing upon enemy targets.



A TX-42 Piranha variant, armed with Twin-linked Rail Rifles

The TX-42 variant of the Piranha is a more heavily-armoured version of the standard Piranha chassis and mounts heavier weapons. It has a semi-enclosed, armoured crew compartment and upgraded armament to turn the light Piranha into a heavier gunship, designed for frontline operations in support of Tau armoured units. It is can be armed with twin-linked Rail Rifles, twin-linked Missile Pods, twin-linked Fusion Blasters or twin-linked Plasma Rifles. To date, the TX-42 has only been encountered by the Imperium amongst the forces of the Sa'cea Sept operating in the Perdus Rift region during the Tau Empire's Third Sphere Expansion.

Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical Specifications

Serial Number 85673-908461 Main Armament Burst Cannon in chin turret
Designation Light Skimmer
Vehicle Codename Piranha Secondary Armament 2 Gun Drones
Vehicle Type Grav-Speeder
Crew 2 (Pilot, Co-Pilot) Traverse 120°
Weight 4.5 tonnes Elevation From -46° to +5°
Length 5.7 metres Ammunition 2000 rounds
Width 6.4 metres Armour Type Nano-Crystalline Alloy

Composition Unknown to the Adeptus Mechanicus

Height 2.4 metres
Max Recorded Speed 160 kilometres per hour
Summary: Light Combat Vehicle; Can also mount a Fusion Blaster and Seeker Missile Rack



  • Apocalypse: Reload, pg. 46
  • Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), pg. 39
  • Imperial Amour - Apocalypse, pg. 80
  • Imperial Armour - Apocalypse (Second Edition), pg. 82
  • Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 181-183
  • Imperial Armour Update 2006
  • Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pg. 195
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.