A Shielded Missile Drone (Kor’vesa in the T'au Lexicon) is a type of T'au Drone (small, sleek, disc-shaped, semi-sentient machines) employed extensively alongside T'au units in battle. The prototype Shielded Missile Drones have to date only been deployed accompanying XV104 Riptide Battlesuits, XV107 R'varna Battlesuits and XV109 Y'vahra Battlesuits during the T'au Empire's Third Sphere Expansion. Each Shielded Missile Drone is an experimental hybrid that combines the functionality of a Shield Drone with a Missile Drone, and is thus equipped with the Shield Generator of the former and the Missile Pod of the latter. Because of this, and their extraordinarily high resilience, they are capable of using their cohesive energy fields to absorb incoming shots, better allowing an XV104 Riptide to acquire and destroy its targets, all the while providing additional long-range heavy weapons fire.
Shielded Missile Drones consist of an advanced processor unit, which individually has only a basic intelligence (approximately equal to that of a small animal such as a pterasquirrel), and moves about by way of a small anti-gravitic generator and a smaller and much modified version of a T'au Jetpack. This allows the Shielded Missile Drone to hover over the ground and skim over most obstacles. As they hover over landscapes, rotating back and forth, their sensor vane constantly transmits vital information about their surroundings.
Shielded Missile Drones that are attached to a T'au squad can be controlled by a Drone Controller, whether it is in the form of a support system for a T'au Battlesuit, or a hard-wired piece of wargear for T'au infantry. A Drone Controller is an electronic device that can be used by the T'au to further enhance their control over their robotic companions. A Drone Controller acts as a hub of digital communications between the Drone's operator and any Drones that are nearby the user. It serves as an advanced interface between the operator and the artificial intelligence (AI) combat programs of the Drones, and is often used to direct the Drones' firepower far more efficiently and with a level of accuracy far greater than would otherwise be possible on the battlefield.
The Fire Caste combat doctrine, as laid down in the Code of Fire, instructs all warriors to fight closely together, with each member of a team doing his utmost to protect not just his comrades, but also nearby teams in his Hunter Cadre. Using overlapping fields of fire, even Drones are able to provide mutual support on the battlefield in the case of enemy assaults.
So deeply do the T'au believe in the Greater Good, that even their Drones are programmed with self-preservation protocols. In the face of what the AI deems to be hopeless odds, a Drone will attempt to escape rather than stand and fight. While in certain extreme circumstances Drones might be deployed on high-risk missions likely to lead to their destruction or purposefully moved to block enemy advances on units of Fire Warriors, the T'au do not consider Drones to be disposable units and the Drone artificial intelligence will analyse every possibility in order to ensure its own survival.
Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical Specifications
- Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), pp. 25, 31, 35
- Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pp. 32-33, 45, 55
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pg. 282
- Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pp. 12