The XV15 Stealthsuit is the smallest of all the various Tau Battlesuit variants, and is designed for stealth roles. They operate as the ‘lone wolves’ of a Tau army, where they specialise in covert operations such infiltration, sabotage, reconnaissance and ambush.
The XV15 Stealthsuit is designed to be worn by a single member of the Fire Caste, and is the smallest out of all the various Battlesuit variants of the Tau - a Tau in an XV15 is hardly larger than a Fire Warrior in standard armour. However, this perfectly suits their role as infiltrators and saboteurs. Stealthsuits are significantly smaller than the XV8 Crisis Battlesuits, and, because of this, carry less weaponry. What Stealthsuits lack in firepower, however, they make up for with the ability to move almost unseen by the enemy until the very last instant.
- Damocles Gulf Crusade - On the Tau world of Dal’yth Prime during the Damocles Gulf Crusade, XV15 Stealthsuits were used to protect forward Pathfinder spotter teams after Imperial assaults threatened them during their mission to pinpoint targets for long-range Seeker Missile strikes. Their jetpack abilities and cloaking fields allowed them to respond quickly and effectively to Imperial threats.
- Kappa Mortis Incident - The Kappa Mortis Incident was an important event that contributed to the future use of XV15 Stealthsuits. An Ultramarines strike force sent to the planet of Kappa Mortis managed to recover a single XV15 helmet from a crashed Aquila shuttle bearing captured Tau technology. This forced the Tau Earth Caste to accelerate development of a new Stealthsuit as a result, rushing the single-weapon XV25 Stealthsuit into service ahead of the much harder to produce XV22 Stealthsuit they had hoped to introduce en masse. This caused XV15 Stealthsuits to become less common in Tau Hunter Cadres due to their replacement as the standard Stealthsuit by the newer XV25.
- Taros Campaign - During the Taros Campaign, XV15 Stealthsuits were an important part of the overall Tau strategy for victory. Stealth teams would be inserted behind enemy lines where they would continually ambush Imperial supply lines, causing food and water shortages for Imperial forces on the frontline. This would be a major factor in the outcome of the war where the lack of supplies, and more importantly water in the harsh desert conditions, would cause the Imperial withdrawal due to great losses from dehydration.
- Waaagh! Skarkill - XV15 Stealthsuits were used as part of the first deployment of a specialist Stealthsuit formation known as the 'Nighthunter Stealth Group', during the bitter fighting against Waaagh! Skarkill. The Orks had captured an Imperial mining world and were using the human colonists as slave workers to collect the planet's rich deposits of iron ore which was being used to assist in the construction of a brand new Stompa mob. The Tau found themselves hard-pressed to meet the Orks in open battle. Instead, Tau forces attacked valuable mines, forcing the greenskins onto the defensive. In doing so, the Tau gained the initiative. In battle after battle, the Tau deployed their new stealth groups. Each group was inserted deep behind Ork lines or within the very mine complexes themselves, using their stealth field generators to remain concealed. When the Hunter Cadres would assault the Orks head on in their mine complexes, the stealth groups would open fire on the Orks from the rear; negating the benefit of any cover they had taken amongst the overhead buildings. In all, the groups were deployed on 24 occasions. Though 8 groups were lost to Ork counter attacks, Waaagh! Skarkill was defeated thanks to their efforts. Skarkill's beloved Stompa mob was, thankfully for the Tau Empire, never built.
- Achilus Crusade - During the Achilus Crusade in the Jericho Reach, stealth teams of the Velk’han Sept were left behind on worlds that the Tau had withdrawn from. These stealth teams were used to confound Imperial forces that came to the planets and gather data on their strength and tactics, so the Tau millitary could ascertain the strength of the foe before committing their forces en mass.
XV15 Stealthsuits are currently being phased out of mainstream use and being replaced by the XV25 Stealthsuit. This has led to their use becoming uncommon due to the XV25 now being the new standard Stealthsuit.
XV15 Stealthsuits are worn by Fire Caste members who have attained the rank of Shas’Ui, normally after they have completed a tour of duty as a Fire Warrior Shas’Ui. Squad leaders are of the rank of Shas’Vre and the whole squad is often bonded in the ritual of Ta’lissera, which is symbolised by a knife design painted on the squad leader’s armour. XV15 Stealthsuit squads often consist of 3 to 6 members.
XV15 Stealthsuit teams either operate in support of larger Tau formations, or range ahead independently from the main Tau army. They are not factored directly into Tau battle plans and enjoy a great deal of freedom of action and autonomy within very broad parameters that have been set down by Tau Commanders. This is because they are encouraged to fight independently and use their own initiative in assaults, as befits their style. The leaders of Stealth teams are often regarded as being slightly eccentric and delight in employing new and unpredictable tactics because of this. XV15 Stealthsuits operate in many different roles, ranging from ambushing isolated enemy troops when they least expect it, and intervening in support of friendly units when needed. In the reconnaissance role, Stealthsuits can infiltrate deep behind enemy lines or move into forward positions unseen, where they can assault enemy units while they are off-guard and disrupt supply lines, like vengeful ghosts striking at will. XV15 Stealthsuits suit these roles as their integrated holographic disruption fields allow for them to sneak forward unobserved into advantageous firing positions before a battle commences. Their stealth capabilities make them extremely hard to detect and their Burst Cannons are the perfect weapon for ambushing lightly armoured troops and attacking the flanks of vehicles. Their Jetpack also gives them the manoeuvrability needed to redeploy quickly on the battlefield as the situation changes. Many a foe of the Tau Empire has found himself attacked from an unexpected quarter by Stealth teams positioned far ahead of the main army.
In times when it is required, Tau Stealth Teams will be grouped together into formations known as ‘Nighthunter Stealth Groups’, or as they are sometimes referred to, ‘Optimised Stealth Groups’. These primarily consist of the newer XV25 Stealthsuits, and will infiltrate far behind enemy lines long before the opening stages of a battle. Once the main Tau force engages the enemy, the Nighthunter Stealth Group reveals itself. It then sets about sowing confusion behind the enemy's lines, destroying ammo dups, cutting off communications, and even engaging enemy troops too busy holding off the main force to notice the stealth group's approach. Caught between the Nighthunter Stealth group and the main Tau army, the enemy is faced with a stark choice - surrender or be cut down in the deadly crossfire.
The command and control teams of these formations, however, often opt to wear XV15 Stealthsuits instead of the now standard XV25 used by the line units. Whilst the XV15 is older and more lightly equipped, it has a smaller silhouette and superior signature shrouding, making it popular amongst experienced warriors; especially when undertaking close-in covert operations.
XV15 Stealthsuits incorporate many of the standard features shared by most Tau Battlesuits. This includes a Tau Jetpack, which combines anti-gravitic and jet technology. Jetpacks allow for Battlesuits to have a stable platform from which to fire their weapons, even when on the move, and grant a great deal of mobility to the user. Jetpacks also allow for the Stealthsuit to be deployed from high altitudes from Tau transports such as Orcas and Mantas, where the Jetpack will slow the Battlesuits descent. In addition to the Jetpack, Stealthsuits also incorporate advanced sensors common to all Battlesuits built into their helmets. This allows for the user to gather more accurate battlefield data and use it to make more informed decisions on where to deploy.
XV15 Stealthsuit also have the unique capability of camouflaging its wearer through the use of its stealth technologies. The suits integrated holographic disruption field achieves its effects through a number of disruptors arrayed all over the suit. These operate in two modes. The default, passive mode utilises a range of technologies to dampen the suit’s electromagnetic signature so that enemy scanners are far less likely to detect it. This mode is called 'passive' because its use cannot be detected, as rather than attempting to interfere with enemy systems, it simply masks the suit itself. In active mode, however, the suit's stealth field generator comes online. The suit's matte finish ripples and blurs, resolving itself into a nigh-perfect representation of what lies behind, making it all but transparent. In this way, the bearers form is blended into the background like a chameleon. In addition, when operating in active mode, the Stealthsuit's systems are actively interfering with and jamming enemy sensor devices. In so doing, the jamming itself will give away the fact that the Stealthsuits are present, but will make their detection nearly impossible.
All XV15 Stealthsuits are armed with a Burst Cannon which is integrated into the suit's upper arm. This befits the Stealthsuit's role, as they can lay down hails of suppressive anti-infantry firepower against enemies. XV15 Stealthsuits can also use their Burst Cannons to target the more vulnerable side and rear armours of vehicles. A stealth team squad leader, such as a Shas’Vre, can take a single item from the Battlesuit Armoury, such as a Hard-Wired Multi Tracker, a Hard-Wired Target Lock, a Hard-Wired Blacksun Filter or a Hard-Wired Drone Controller. A Drone controller allows for two Tau Drones, whether they be Gun Drones or a Shield Drones, to accompany the squad to lend additional firepower and protection. These Drones will also have the same stealth technologies that the Stealthsuits have applied to them. The Shas’Vre of the squad can also take a Marker Light.
- Apocalypse Reload, pg. 47
- Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), pp. 16, 25, 35, 60
- Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), pp. 27, 35
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 78, 284
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 366-367
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pg. 16
- White Dward 321 (UK), "The Kappa Mortis Incident", pp. 76-81