- " Launch an ambush not to slay, but rather to seize the initiative and thereby win the war."
The XV25 Stealthsuit is one of the smallest of all the various Tau Battlesuits, and is designed for use in operations requiring a high degree of stealth. Fire Warriors serving in a Stealth Team specialise in covert operations such as infiltration, sabotage, reconnaissance and ambush. Stealth Teams are essentially the Fire Caste's special operations units. They are the "lone wolves" of the Tau military, typically operating independently of their Hunter Cadre. Suddenly appearing, as if stepping out from nowhere, a Stealth Team unleashes a hail of gunfire to cripple or eliminate their selected targets. 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.
The XV25 Stealthsuit is designed to be worn by a single member of the Fire Caste, and is one of the smallest of all the various Battlesuit variants of the Tau, as a Tau in an XV25 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 XV25's role as the preferred Battlesuit of Tau infiltrators and saboteurs. XV25 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. XV25 Stealthsuits are a relatively recent development of the Tau Earth Caste and shares many of the same features of its predecessor in the Tau armoury, the XV15 Stealthsuit. The XV15 Stealthsuit is currently being phased out of use by the Fire Caste and is being replaced by the XV25 Stealthsuit, which will serve as the new standard for all Tau forces in the years to come.
The Kappa Mortis Incident was an important event that contributed to the future use of XV25 Stealthsuits. An Ultramarines strike force sent to the planet of Kappa Mortis managed to recover a single XV15 Stealthsuit 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, 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 XV25 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. XV25 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. XV25 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.
XV25 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.
XV25 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. XV25 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. XV25 Stealthsuit teams usually consist of 3 to 6 members.
XV25 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 operational 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.
XV25 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 XV25 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. XV25 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 XV25s 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. The Fire Caste doctrine 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 Cadre. With this training, Tau XV25 Stealthsuits can use overlapping fields of fire to provide all nearby teams with mutual support on the battlefield in the case of enemy assaults.
Built from the same dense nano-crystalline alloy as the larger XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, the XV25 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 XV25's integrated Burst Cannon is the perfect weapon for ambushing lightly armoured troops and attacking the flanks of vehicles. XV25s can also be armed with a Fusion Blaster instead of a Burst Cannon, which provides the Stealthsuit the ability to hunt down even the most heavily armoured vehicles. The XV25'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 XV25 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 XV25’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.
- Infiltration Cadre - Infiltration Cadres are expected to advance into harm's way to locate high value strategic targets to attack -- they serve as the eyes and ears of the Fire Caste. Usually operating deep behind enemy lines, the warriors of an Infiltration Cadre are prepared to fight unsupported against superior foes, using every iota of their skills in stealth and evasion to stay alive while hammering the enemy with fire. However, a properly deployed Infiltration Cadre is never truly isolated, for by activating their intervention request beacons or concentrating their Marker Lights in a neutralisation lattice, the Cadre can call in massive reinforcements to screaming volleys of Seeker Missles to turn the tables upon their foe. Infiltration Cadres are usually made up of three Pathfinder teams, two teams of XV25 Stealthsuits, and a TX4 Piranha squadron.
- Optimised Stealth Cadre - Optimised Stealth Cadres consist entirely of elite stealth Battlesuits that, like malicious ghosts, haunt enemies' battle lines. When they strike, so sudden and overwhelming is their assault that enemy forces are usually thrown into complete disarray, warriors fleeing or firing wildly as the Tau seem to come from all directions at once. The Battlesuits of a Optimised Stealth Cadre are capable of networking their stealth fields in a mamoeuvre known as mesme'jkaara in the Tau Lexicon, which roughly translates into 'the wall of mirrors'. This allows them to generate holograms of each other and utterly confound their foes' senses and sensors alike, appearing to attack from one quarter while in truth moving in from the opposite direction altogether. By the time their prey has realised the nature of the trick, it is far too late as punishing rains down upon their unprotected flanks. Optimised Stealth Cadres usually consist of two teams of XV25 Stealthsuits working together with a single team of XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuits.
- Nighthunter Stealth Group - When required, Tau Stealth Teams will be grouped together into a formation known as a “Nighthunter Stealth Groups”, or as they are sometimes known, an “Optimised Stealth Group”. 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.
- Rapid Insertion Force - It is not the Tau way of war to fight protracted, static battles. Aggressive use of mobility and firepower are key to the success of Fire Warriors. A large part of this success is dependent upon the activities of a cadre's Stealthsuit Teams -- their role is to find the enemy, create diversions and launch surprise attacks, while acting as a rear guard should things go poorly. A Rapid Insertion Force is a specialised formation that strikes suddenly against key enemy units or establishes a perimeter to hold ground until other Fire Caste units arrive, delivering the Mont’ka, or the killing blow, to the foe. In this force, a single Stealth Team leads the way for a more heavily armed force of several Crisis Battlesuit teams (usually three to five). The entire force trains together before a battle, so that they can deliver a swift and effective attack that stuns the enemy, allowing further Tau forces to move forward unmolested. A Rapid Insertion Force will often await deployment in a sub-orbital Manta, whilst the Stealthsuit Team moves in and infiltrates the battlefield, selecting critical targets before triggering their homing beacon. Once the Stealthsuits are in position, the Battlesuits of the Rapid Insertion Force airdrop from altitude and use their Jetpacks to zone in on the Stealthsuit team’s coordinates. Marker Lights will stream around them from the streaking Tau air fleet above, lighting up targets even as the XV8 Crisis Battlesuits descend from the skies -- their impressive arsenal of weapons already blazing away in unison at the greatest threat. Once on the ground, the whole formation then works together with the element of surprise to pin the enemy down and secure the area. Occasionally, an XV104 Riptide Battlesuit is assigned to a Rapid Insertion Force, adding its own tremendous firepower to the sudden Battlesuit onslaught.
The XV25 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 an XV25 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 XV25 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 XV25 Stealthsuits are also equipped with a Blacksun Filter, which is an advanced optical system that 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, XV25 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. A full medical suite and nutrient reservoirs are also built into XV25 Stealthsuits to help aid them in the field.
The XV25 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. Layers of audio and sensory dampening technologies serve to further hide the Stealthsuit. 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.
XV25 Stealthsuits differ from XV15 Stealthsuits mainly through the additional space provided due to the slightly larger and bulkier form of the suit. This extra space allows an XV25 to take a Battlesuit Support System to boost its combat effectiveness, whether it be through improved weapon accuracy, the ability to identify and target multiple targets independently, or enhanced defensive measures. All XV25 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 XV25 Stealthsuit can also use its Burst Cannon to target the usually more vulnerable side and rear armour plating of enemy vehicles to great effectiveness.
One in three XV25 Stealthsuits in a squad, however, can replace their Burst Cannon with a Fusion Blaster, which can provide the squad with the ability to hunt down and effectively destroy heavy tanks and elite infantry. A Stealth Team's Shas’vre squad leader can take items from the Battlesuit armoury to enhance his combat effectiveness. An XV25 Shas’vre can also be accompanied by two Tau Drones in combat, whether they be Gun Drones, Shield Drones or Marker Drones to lend additional firepower and protection. These Drones are equipped with the same stealth field generator technology that XV25 Stealthsuits use, which allows them to operate without compromising the Stealth Team's ability to remain undetected. An XV25 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 XV25 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.
Available XV25 Stealthsuit Combat Support Systems
Below is a list of the most common available combat support systems that an XV25 Stealthsuit can be armed with:
- Advanced Targeting System – An Advanced Targeting System is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the Battlesuit pilot to automatically identify and pick out priority targets in the midst of combat.
- Counterfire Defence System – A Counterfire Defence System is a valuable artificial intelligence (AI) sensor suite first designed to counter the threat of charging Ork hordes. It incorporates logic circuits to ensure that assaulting enemies are met with a withering curtain of unerringly accurate Battlesuit firepower.
- Drone Controller - A Drone Controller acts as a hub for communications and interface between an operator and the AI battle programs of a number of Tau Drones. The Drone Controller device gives the user the ability to relay any additional targeting data they receive to their Drones, thus directing those automatons' fire more accurately at the target.
- Early Warning Override – An Early Warning Override sensor suite is calibrated to detect the electronic signatures of teleport beams and orbital-entry jump systems, and jolt the Battlesuit 's weapon systems to lock-on status before the target has a chance to react.
- Positional Relay - A Positional Relay digitally records detailed battlefield data and relays it in a tight encrypted radio burst to assets in orbit and squads held in reserve. Information sent usually includes battlefield terrain and status reports to allow the incoming units to make a better decision on where to deploy onto the battlefield and coordinate their actions as part of the overall combat strategy.
- Shield Generator - Battlesuit Shield Generators project cohesive energy fields around the Battlesuit that can deflect weapons fire and melee blows that would otherwise destroy the Battlesuit outright, whether such incoming fire be shots from heavy ordnance or anti-tank weapons.
- Stimulant Injector - A Battlesuit with Stimulant Injectors is fitted with advanced life support systems that are able to flood the Battlesuit pilot's body with painkillers, analgesic drugs, and other life-sustaining stimulants should he become badly wounded in combat.
- Target Lock - A Target Lock is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the user to engage different targets from the rest of the squad.
- Targetting Array - The Targetting Array is a relatively new application of the Target Lock technology used in vehicles and Battlesuits. It provides assistance to aiming at targets.
- Vectored Retro-Thrusters - A Battlesuit with Vectored Retro-Thrusters is equipped with additional thruster nozzles, giving a degree of additional manoeuvrability that is useful when escaping from combat.
- Velocity Tracker – The advanced motion detection and infared sensor systems built into a Velocity Tracker allows Battlesuit pilots to track the movements of airborne targets and effectively engage them with the Battlesuit’s weapons.
Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical Specifications
- Apocalypse (6th Edition), pp. 180-181
- Apocalypse (4th Edition), pg. 161
- Apocalypse Reload, pg. 47
- Codex: Tau Empire (7th Edition), pp. 29, 47, 54, 56, 86, 107-108
- Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pp. 43, 68-71, 100
- Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), pp. 27, 35
- Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), pp. 16, 25, 35, 60
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 366-367
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pg. 16
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 78, 282, 284
- Rogue Trader: Tau Character Guide (RPG), pg. 39
- War Zone Damocles: Kauyon, pp. 39, 109, 116, 185-186
- War Zone Damocles: Mont'ka, pp. 185
- White Dwarf 321 (UK), "The Kappa Mortis Incident", pp. 76-81