The XV46 Vanguard Void Battlesuit is a newly developed Tau Battlesuit that was designed by Earth Caste mechanics of the Tau Empire out of a need for a specialised Battlesuit to explore Space Hulks. Initially conceived after a Tau expedition into the Space Hulk Mortis Thule in the Canis Salient of the Jericho Reach, these unique Battlesuits have yet to see widespread use amongst the Tau Empire. Their primary function is the exploration of derelict voidships, and whilst the Vanguard Battlesuits are fairly bulky, they are not as large as the more common XV8 Crisis Battlesuits and XV88 Broadside Battlesuits which would struggle to manoeuvre through the restrictive wreckage and cramped corridors of ship interior environs. XV46 Vanguard Void Battlesuits are also comparatively difficult to produce, even for the technologically savvy Tau, because of the advanced and miniaturised technology they incorporate. As a result, few of these Battlesuits currently exist in the Tau Fire Caste's arsenal.
So far as the forces of the Imperial Achilus Crusade in the Jericho Reach can ascertain, the Tau have not yet had many encounters with the perils of a Space Hulk -- they are a fortunately rare occurrence by any estimation -- but the appearance of a conglomeration of derelict starships seems too great a wealth of knowledge and technology for their kind to ignore. Even with their limited experience of the hazards of a Space Hulk, the Tau have nevertheless learned that they are perilous places; and in their own way they have developed means to confront the dangers present aboard them. Utilising flocks of semi-intelligent DX-11 Exploratory Drones, commanded by a small number of Fire Caste warriors in specialised XV46 Vanguard Void Battlesuit armour, Tau expeditionary forces are small but well-equipped. Each adheres strictly to complex strategic doctrines that prioritise the survival of valuable assets over and above direct confrontations.
Because of the terrain XV46 Vanguard Void Battlesuits are expected to operate through, they are well armed for close quarters combat and laden with powerful short-ranged weapons and advanced defensive systems. As with most forms of Tau Battlesuit, the XV46 features advanced communications systems and sensors built into the primary sensor cluster that is the Battlesuit’s "head." These sensors, which consist of a number of variable spectrum sensors and scanners, allow the Battlesuit to detect hidden enemy units and their movement; information that can be transmitted back to Tau command units. The sensors also allow the Battlesuit to operate effectively in the dark conditions that are common with Space Hulks. All XV46 Vanguard Void Battlesuits are also protected by a dense nano-crystalline alloy armour named Fio'tak in the Tau Lexicon. This advanced alloy has a high impact resistant structure, which makes it extremely resilient. The material is also lightweight, which keeps the Battlesuit quite light despite its bulk. This reduced weight means it can operate effectively using its Tau Jetpack for manoeuvrability and dropping from transport aircraft, like the Orca and Manta. The Jetpack, which is another common feature, combines anti-gravitic and jet technology to make the Battlesuit extremely agile for its size. Indeed, given the awkward and often-hostile environments they face, Vanguard Battlesuits are equipped to move primarily by Jetpack, and are also heavily reinforced with life support systems.
The XV46 Vanguard Void Battlesuit’s primary armament consists of a Flame Projector to repel hordes of infantry at close range, a Burst Cannon for sustainable high-strength firepower, and a Fusion Torch for cutting through any obstacles blocking access ways; although it can also be used to devastating effect against enemies as a potent close combat weapon. All these Battlesuit weapon systems are fully integrated and supplied by continuous, high-yield power relays and ammunition hoppers. XV46 Vanguard Void Battlesuits are also designed with advanced recoil absorption technology, meaning that they can fire their weapons at maximum capacity and with maximum accuracy, even when on the move.
However, the XV46 is not only equipped with potent offensive weapons, but also a range of advanced defensive support systems. These include an array of electroshock repulsors, photon charge launchers and wide-burst gravity pulse generators mounted across the surface of the Battlesuit armour. These systems are activated by subconscious mind-impulse triggers to ensure the fastest response to an enemy attack. They are primarily used to repel foes seeking to engage the pilots of the XV46 in close combat by forcing and shunting them away, and also potentially stunning them. As a final layer of protection, the pilot sits within a shock-proof ejection pod whilst using the Battlesuit. The pod will eject the pilot in the event of catastrophic damage to the Battlesuit, and is programmed to return the pilot to the safety of the Tau boarding craft.
XV46 Vanguard Void Battlesuits are commonly accompanied by DX-11 Exploratory Drones on Tau exploration expeditions into Space Hulks. These Tau Drones are controlled via a Drone Controller support system, and are used to scout ahead and roam an unexplored area, all the while transmitting information on what they find back to the Battlesuit's pilot.
XV46-4 Vanguard Commander Variant Void Battlesuit
A more heavily built and equipped variant of the XV46 Vanguard Battlesuit, the XV46-4 is designed to be used by experienced Tau Commanders of Shas’el rank or higher. These Battlesuits employ many of the same basic technologies as the standard XV46, but with many additional advanced and experimental systems; following the Tau custom of issuing cutting-edge technology to command personnel for field testing.
The XV46-4 is primarily armed with a Flame Projector, like the standard XV46, an experimental EMP Blaster which can disable and disrupt enemy electronic systems at range -- causing them to go haywire -- and a Microburst Fragmentation Launcher which is relatively similar to the experimental Airbursting Fragmentation Projector. Unlike the normal XV46, the XV46-4 Commander variant is also fitted with extensive command and communication systems. Because the pilot of an XV46-4 is often a high-ranking Fire Caste officer with years of experience in commanding Tau forces using advanced communications systems, these suits are valuable assets in the field, with normally only a single one assigned to any given Tau expeditionary force. The command uplink systems unique to this variant of the XV46 provides the Tau Commander access to a persistent stream of tactical and strategic information, allowing him a clear view of the theatre of battle. Using that information, the commander can assist his forces with precisely timed instructions to counter the actions of the foe.
Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical Specifications
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 171-174
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 365-366
- Deathwatch: Ark of Lost Souls (RPG), pp. 122-124