" Launch an ambush not to slay, but rather to seize the initiative and thereby win the war."
- —Commander Puretide
The XV15 Stealthsuit is the smallest of all the various Tau Battlesuit variants, and is designed for use in operations requiring a high degree of stealth. Squads of Fire Warriors wearing XV15 Stealthsuits work in operation units that are the "lone wolves" of a Tau army, and specialise in covert operations such as infiltration, sabotage, reconnaissance and ambush; typically operating independently of the main Hunter Cadre. Theirs is a secretive way of war, as they infiltrate enemy lines, seeking vulnerable targets to destroy. In order to pass unseen into enemy territory, XV15 Stealthsuits use light-bending disruption technology embedded in their sleek Battlesuits to camouflage themselves. Additional cloaking fields deaden sound and shield them from heat-detecting sensors, allowing them to penetrate deep into hostile regions before launching precisely timed ambushes.
Stealth Teams are special operations units that are the "lone wolves" of the Tau military, typically operating independently of the cadre. Theirs is a secretive way of war, as they infiltrate enemy lines, seeking vulnerable targets to destroy. In order to pass unseen into enemy territory, Stealth Teams use light-bending disruption technology embedded in their sleek Battlesuits to camouflage themselves. Additional cloaking fields deaden sound and shield them from heat-detecting sensors, allowing them to penetrate deep into hostile regions before launching precisely timed ambushes. Suddenly appearing, as if stepping out from nowhere, a Stealth Team unleashes a hail of gunfire to cripple or eliminate their selected targets.
The key to Stealth Teams is the technology behind their XV15 and XV25 Stealth Battlesuits. Only slightly more bulky than the armour worn by Fire Warriors, these "Stealthsuits" have integral stealth field generators that project from nodes situated about the body armour. They surround their bearer with a distortion effect that plays havoc with a full spectrum of light and confounds other detection devices, allowing warriors wearing such armour to move untracked, blending in with their surrounding environment. Because it is hard to focus on their location, a Stealth Team can hide to at least some degree even when standing in open territory. In areas of cover, such as forests or the rubble of an embattled city, they can effectively fade into the background, making themselves extremely difficult targets for enemies to mark out or lock on to effectively.
Built of the same dense nanocrystalline alloy as the larger XV8 Crisis Battlesuits, the Stealthsuit is equipped with a powerful burst cannon as standard. For added firepower, some teams upgrade specific members to carry a Fusion Blaster, as these short-ranged weapons are better for engaging heavily armoured targets or vehicles. If a Shas'vre is present, he can bring additional equipment, such as a marker light, drones or even a Homing Beacon to allow XVS Crisis Teams to more accurately deploy. Some Septs, most notably Tash'var, are known to employ Stealth Teams outfitted with Marker Drones. This is a tactic common against large Ork hordes, as the Stealth Teams use their Burst Cannons to thin the enemy numbers before painting them with Marker Lights, allowing the rest of the cadre to wipe them out. Once their ambush is sprung, Stealth Teams use their Jetpacks to make bounding leaps -- moving either to acquire another target or to put obstacles in the way of any return fire.
Due to the nature of their covert role in battle, Stealth Teams enjoy a level of independence that is rare in Tau military operations. Observing comm-silence and unable to receive orders, Stealth Teams are typically left to make their own decisions. Those Shas'ui who volunteer for such duty are seen as strange, an unpredictable lot who do not always follow convention -- traits generally regarded with much suspicion in the well-regimented and highly structured culture of the Tau. Those who survive long enough to earn the rankof Shas'vre within the Stealth Teams are, without exception, noted as eccentrics, famous for their tactical innovations and daring raids deep behind enemy lines.
The XV15 Stealthsuit is designed to be worn by a single member of the Fire Caste, and is the smallest of all the various Battlesuit variants of the Tau, as a Tau in an XV15 Stealthsuit is hardly larger than a Fire Warrior in standard Tau Combat Armour; even though it offers far greater protection. However, this perfectly suits the XV15's role as the preferred Battlesuit of Tau infiltrators and saboteurs. XV15 Stealthsuits are significantly smaller than the XV8 Crisis Battlesuits, and, because of this, carry less weaponry. What Stealthsuits lack in firepower, however, they more than make up for with the ability to move almost unseen by the enemy until the very last instant. 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 of the Tau Fire Caste.
On the Tau world of Dal’yth Prime during the Damocles Gulf Crusade, XV15 Stealthsuit-clad Fire Warriors were used to protect forward Pathfinder spotter teams after Imperial assaults threatened them during their missions to pinpoint targets for long-range Seeker Missile strikes. Their Jetpacks and cloaking fields allowed the XV15s to respond quickly and effectively to the Imperial threats.
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 Lander bearing captured Tau technology. This forced the Tau Earth Caste to accelerate development of a new type of Stealthsuit as a result, rushing the single-weapon XV25 Stealthsuit into service ahead of the much more difficult 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.
During the Taros Campaign, the deployment of XV15 Stealthsuits proved to be an important component of the overall Tau strategy for victory. Stealthsuit Teams would be inserted behind enemy lines where they would continually ambush and wreak havoc upon Imperial supply lines, causing food and water shortages for Imperial forces on the frontline. XV15 Stealthsuits struck to sow panic and confusion whilst sabotaging the Imperial advance, before fading back into cover. Entire divisions of Imperial Guard were taken off the front lines in desperate attempts to hunt them down. XV15 Stealthsuit Teams proved to be a major factor in the outcome of the conflict when the lack of critical water supplies in the harsh desert conditions caused an ultimate Imperial withdrawal from the world due to heavy losses from dehydration.
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. This ore was used to begin the construction of a Stompa mob. The Tau found themselves hard-pressed to meet the Orks in open battle. Instead, Tau forces attacked the valuable mines, forcing the Greenskins onto the defensive. In doing so, the Tau gained the initiative in the conflict. In battle after battle, the Tau deployed their new Nighthunter formations. Each stealth group was inserted deep behind Ork lines or within the mine complexes themselves, using their stealth field generators to remain concealed. When the Hunter Cadres assaulted the Orks head-on in the mine complexes, the stealth groups opened fire on the Orks from the rear, negating the benefit of any cover they had taken amongst the overhead buildings. In all, the Nighthunter groups were deployed on 24 occasions. Though 8 of these groups were lost to Ork counter-attacks, WAAAGH! Skarkill was ultimately defeated thanks to their efforts. Warboss Skarkill's beloved Stompa mob was, thankfully for the Tau Empire, never built.
During the Achilus Crusade in the Jericho Reach, Stealth Teams of the Velk’han Sept were left behind on those worlds from which the Tau had willingly withdrawn. The Stealth Teams were used to confound Imperial forces that came to these worlds after the Tau withdrawal, and gather strategic data on the xenos' strength and tactics so the Tau Fire Caste could ascertain the strength of the human foe before committing their forces en masse.
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 the Shas’ui of a squad of Fire Warriors. XV15 Stealthsuit squad leaders hold the rank of Shas’vre, and are masters of the arts of subterfuge. The whole squad is usually ritually bonded to one another according to the Tau custom of Ta’lissera, which is symbolised by a knife design painted onto the squad leader’s armour. XV15 Stealthsuit teams usually 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. Stealth Teams are not factored directly into Tau battle plans due to the nature of their covert role in battle, and enjoy a great deal of freedom of action and autonomy within very broad parameters that have been set down by Tau Commanders. This freedom of action is rare in Tau military operations. This is because Stealth Teams are encouraged to fight independently and use their own initiative in assaults, as befits their combat style and tactical specialisation. Observing comm-silence and unable to receive orders, Stealth Teams are typically left to make their own decisions. Those Shas'ui who volunteer for duty in Stealth Teams are seen as strange; an unpredictable lot who do not always follow convention -- traits generally regarded with much suspicion in the well-regimented and highly-structured culture of the Tau. Those who survive long enough to earn the title of Shas'vre within the Stealth Teams are, without exception, noted as eccentrics amongst their fellow Tau, famous for their tactical innovations and daring raids deep behind enemy lines, as well as their delight in employing new and unpredictable tactics.
XV15 Stealthsuits operate in many different tactical roles, ranging from ambushing isolated enemy troops when they least expect it, to 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. Suddenly appearing, as if stepping out from nowhere, a Stealth Team unleashes a hail of gunfire to cripple or eliminate their selected targets before disappearing once more. However, when XV15 Stealthsuit Teams operate behind enemy lines, they are not alone and are able to call in a plethora of support options to better aid them in their goal. XV15 Stealthsuit Shas’vres can be armed with a Marker Light and Target Lock, allowing them to designate an enemy target for a long range Seeker Missile strike, and can also carry homing beacons to allow further Battlesuit teams to accurately deploy in devastating surgical strikes. Some Tau Septs, most notably Tash'var, are known to employ Stealth Teams outfitted with Marker Drones. This is a tactic common against large Ork hordes, as the Stealth Teams can use their Burst Cannons to thin the enemy numbers before painting them with Marker Lights, allowing the rest of the main Hunter Cadre to wipe them out. Once their ambush is sprung, the XV15s can use their Jetpacks to make bounding leaps -- moving either to acquire another target or to put obstacles in the way of any return fire.
Built from the same dense nano-crystalline alloy as the larger XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, the XV15 Stealthsuit is the key to a Stealth Team's success, as its integrated holographic disruption fields allow its wearer to sneak forward unobserved into advantageous firing positions before a battle commences. The suit's stealth capabilities make its wearers extremely hard to detect, and the XV15's integrated Burst Cannon is the perfect weapon for ambushing lightly armoured troops and attacking the flanks of vehicles. The XV15's Jetpack also gives its wearer the manoeuvrability needed to redeploy quickly on the battlefield as the situation changes. The mobility provided by a Tau Jetpack also allows wearers of the XV15 Stealthsuit to pounce from cover upon the unsuspecting enemy forces and strafe them before retreating out of range again. This makes Jetpack-equipped Stealthsuit troops hard to counter and very difficult for the enemy to engage. An XV15’s Jetpack can also be used to slow the Battlesuit’s descent from high altitudes, allowing for Stealth Teams to be dropped directly behind enemy lines from high flying transports such as Orcas or Mantas. 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, and have learned to be wary of the technologically blurred Battlesuits that appear in their midst.
- Nighthunter Stealth Group - When required, Tau Stealth Teams will be grouped together into formations known as “Nighthunter Stealth Groups”, or as they are sometimes known, “Optimised Stealth Groups”. These teams primarily consist of warriors wearing the newer XV25 Stealthsuits, and they 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 sets about sowing confusion behind the enemy's lines, destroying ammunition dumps, 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 Nighthunters 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 Nighthunter 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 Tau warriors, especially when Nighthunter teams undertake close-in covert operations.
The XV15 Stealthsuit is only slightly more bulky than the Combat Armour worn by Fire Warriors, and incorporates many of the standard features shared by most Tau Battlesuits. This includes a powerful and sophisticated Tau Jetpack, which combines anti-gravitic and jet propulsion technology. The Jetpack allows the Battlesuit to maintain a stable platform from which to fire its weapons, even when on the move, and provides a great deal of mobility to the user. The Jetpack also allows for a XV15 Stealthsuit to be deployed from high altitudes by Tau transports such as Orcas and Mantas, where the Jetpack will be used to safely slow the Battlesuit's descent. In addition to the Jetpack, an XV15 Stealthsuit also incorporates advanced sensors common to all Tau Battlesuits which are built into the helmets. These sensors and systems allow for the user to gather more accurate battlefield data which can assist informed decision-making on where to best deploy themselves to maximise their tactical effectiveness. All XV15 Stealthsuits are also equipped with a Blacksun Filter, which is an advanced optical system enhances and magnifies a warrior's low-light vision whilst simultaneously filtering bright flares of light that could blind him in battle, and a Multi Tracker, which assists Battlesuit pilots in engaging enemy threats by using multiple armaments at once; making them formidable opponents in a wide variety of battle conditions. As with all Tau Battlesuits, XV15 Stealthsuits are constructed out of a lightweight yet strong nano-crystalline alloy called Fio'tak in the Tau Lexicon, which is light, malleable, impact resistant and corrosive resistant, reducing the weight of the Battlesuit 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.
The XV15 Stealthsuit also possesses the unique capability of camouflaging its wearer through the use of its stealth technologies. The suit's integrated holographic disruption field achieves its effects through a number of disruptor emitter nodes arrayed all over the Battlesuit's armour. This holographic disruption field can 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 sensor 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 the terrain that lies behind it; making the suit and its wearer all but transparent -- even to visual identification. In this way, the Stealthsuit's form is blended into the background as if its wearer was a Terran 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 may give away the fact that a Stealthsuit is present somewhere on the battlefield, but it will make the detection of its actual location nearly impossible; thus allowing the Stealthsuit-clad warriors to move untracked, blending in with their surrounding environment before they strike. Because it is hard to focus on their location, a Stealth Team can hide to at least some degree even when standing in open territory. In areas of cover, such as forests or the rubble of an embattled city, they can effectively fade into the background, making themselves extremely difficult targets for enemies to mark out or lock on to effectively.
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 its wearer can lay down a hail of suppressive anti-infantry firepower using the weapon. An XV15 Stealthsuit can also use its Burst Cannon to target the usually more vulnerable side and rear armour plating of enemy vehicles to great effectiveness. A Stealth Team's Shas’vre squad leader can take a single item from the Battlesuit armoury to enhance his combat effectiveness. An XV15 Shas’vre can also be accompanied by two Tau Drones in combat, whether they be Gun Drones or Shield Drones, to lend additional firepower and protection. These Drones are equipped with the same stealth field generator technology that XV15 Stealthsuits use, which allows them to operate without compromising the Stealth Team's ability to remain undetected. An XV15 Shas’vre himself can be equipped with a Marker Light and Target Lock to enhance the targeting capabilities of those Tau units the Stealthsuit Team is supporting, or call in long-range Seeker Missile strikes as support. An XV15 Shas’vre can also be equipped with a Homing Beacon, which is a multi-spectrum homing device that, when activated, allows the main Hunter Cadre 's Battlesuit reinforcements to deploy with pinpoint precision.
- Apocalypse Reload, pg. 47
- Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), pp. 16, 25, 35, 60
- Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), pp. 27, 35
- Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pp. 43, 68-71, 100
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 78, 282, 284
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 366-367
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pg. 16
- White Dwarf 321 (UK), "The Kappa Mortis Incident", pp. 76-81