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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the Tau drones; for the Chaos Blight Drone, see Blight Drone.
Various types of Tau Drones

Drones are AI-controlled light hovering vehicles that perform a variety of civilian and military roles for the Tau. Unlike the Imperium of Man, the Tau make extensive use of these and other machine intelligences.[1a][2a]


Drones are conventionally disk-shaped, armoured, and equipped with an anti-gravitic generator and jet motors for propulsion. Their advanced processor unit has only a basic intelligence, similar to that of a small animal, which requires regular orders from their masters, often through a drone controller. It is also programmed for self-preservation, and will typically flee in the face of danger (drones without propulsion systems will instead self-destruct upon capture). However, Drones can network together, increasing their intelligence and processing speed. This allows them to operate in a group independently of a controller for long periods of time.[1a][2a][5a]

Typical civilian jobs for Drones include message delivery or domestic services, as well as dangerous or tedious duties. This latter ability makes Drones popular for use by the Tau military in support of their organic forces. Despite this, the Tau do not treat their military Drones as expendable forces, instead as a way to augment and support their Fire Warriors in the field.[5a] The most common uses of these drones entail carrying and operating equipment presumably too heavy or bulky to simply be carried by a team member.

Drones by Type

Command-link Drone

MV62 Command-link Drones[1e] accompany commanders into battle. They allow the commander to better direct the battle by networking them to squad leaders and other officers under their command.[2d]

Command-link Drone

Escort Drone

Escort Drones are a type of small drone that often accompany Tau Water Caste negotiators and incorporate both defensive as well as minor offensive capabilities. They are nimble and compact, making use of small efficient anti-grav units which are similar in design to larger drones. They not only act as protectors for their charge but as tools for trade as they are programmed to record and deliver complex messages. They are also used to guide prospective clients to the Water Caste negotiator and record every exchange that takes place. This information is then used for later study and dissection in order to better tailor to the individual in question. To serve them in their role, the escort drone makes use of a simple projector array that displays information on a flat screen. They are also usually equipped with twin Pulse Pistols, which take up a majority of the space in the small drone[4].

Tau Water Caste official with an Escort Drone

XR-0 Drone

Kartyr of the Water Caste are accompanied by an XR-0 Drone, which forgoes the pulse pistols in favor of being smaller.[25]

Earth Caste Builder

Earth Caste Builders are drones used by the Earth Caste to erect structures and perform repairs on damaged buildings. However, they are unarmed and unable to defend themselves against an attack.[6] At least some of them carry welding tools.[25]

Earth Caste Builder Drone

Grav-Inhibitor Drone

Grav Inhibitor Drones (MV33) are often utilized by Pathfinder Teams. These drones are equipped with Gravity Wave Projectors.[12] It hovers above the operator and throws back the enemy with its graviton waves.[1d]

Grav-inhibitor Drone[12]

Gun Drone

Gun Drones (MV1)[19] are armed with twin-linked Pulse Carbines and often serve along side Fire Warriors in battle.[1a][2a][5a]

Gun Drone Squadron

Gun Drone Squadrons are formed of 4 to 8 Gun Drones which have networked together in order to act independently for long periods of time. Their primary mission is to act in support of Fire Warrior teams by pinning the enemy down with their weapons, allowing the Tau warriors additional time to engage.[14d][2b]


A pair of Gun Drones are often fitted to some Tau vehicles (most notably the Devilfish and Piranha). These drones, when not using their firepower in support of their parent vehicle, will often detach themselves to support the embarked Fire Warrior squad in combat, as well as scout and protect exposed flanks from enemy actions.[5a]

A Gun Drone

Heavy Gun Drone

Heavy Gun Drones are one of the largest Drones currently known to Imperial forces. Their size allows them to carry multiple heavy weapons, typically twin-linked burst cannons. They operate in squadrons of two to six Drones.[5a]

Heavy Gun Drone

Interceptor Drone

Interceptor Drones are aerial fighter drones typically deployed from Tau aircraft such as the Sun Shark Bomber to intercept incoming enemy flyers. They are armed with twin Ion Rifles.[13]

Interceptor Drone[13]

Missile Drone

Missile Drones (MV8) are the standard type of Tau Missile Drone, equipped with a Missile Pod.[1a]

Shielded Missile Drones

Shielded Missile Drones(MV84) excel at both offense and defense. They use a cohesive energy field generator to absorb incoming shots, and are also well-armed with Missile Pods for retaliatory fire. They often deploy alongside the XV104 Riptide Battlesuit.[14a]

Shielded Missile Drone

Marker Drone

Marker Drones (MV7)[19] are unarmed Drones equipped with a Networked Markerlight and a Targeting Array.[2a] Heavy Marker Drones are the same size as Heavy Gun Drones but, replace one of their Burst Cannons for a Markerlight.[3][5a] It can call a Seeker Missile strike upon a enemy.[1c]

Marker Drone[16]

Pulse Accelerator Drone

Pulse Accelerator Drones (MV31) are frequently used by Pathfinder Teams. They are equipped with Pulse Accelerators, which allow for the range of Pulse weapons to be extended.[12]

Pulse Accelerator Drone[12]

Recon Drone

Recon Drones (MB3) typically accompany Pathfinder teams[14b] and can also be mounted on Devilfish APC's. Specializing in reconnaissance missions, they are armed with a Burst Cannon.[14c]

Recon Drone[12]

Aerial Mine

The DX-13 Aerial Mine is an Air Caste drone that uses advanced AI technology. Given limited self-initiative, the drone hovers in the air, scanning the sky and receiving tracking information from Tau commanders on the ground. It has limited maneuverability and can change its altitude to meet incoming aircraft. Used as an area denial weapon, when an enemy aircraft is detected the drone will move towards the target and detonate. These mines are most often deployed from Tiger Shark aircraft.[24]

Aerial Mine DX-13[24]

Stealth Drones

Remora Drone Stealth Fighter

The DX-6 Remora Drone Stealth Fighter is an unmanned stealth Drone fighter aircraft utilized by the Tau Air Caste. Packed with advanced equipment, including a Blacksun Filter, Targeting Array and stealth field generator, it is armed with a long-barreled Burst Cannon and two Seeker Missiles, which it can aim and fire itself with a Network Markerlight. Remoras were first encountered during the Tau raid on the Imperial penal world of Typha-IV, and can be carried into battle underneath a modified Tiger Shark or launched of the back of a Manta Missile Destroyer, which can then control the craft from high altitude. They can operate in flights of up to five drones.[7b][8]

Remora Drone Stealth Fighter

MV5 Stealth Drone

The MV5 Stealth Drone is an advanced Tau Drone used to generate cloaking fields over both itself and nearby forces. A pair is typically deployed by the XV95 Ghostkeel Stealth Battlesuit.[17]

MV5 Stealth Drone

Shield Drone

Shield Drones (MV4) are unarmed Drones equipped with a shield generator that usually accompany commanders and Battlesuits, although they sometimes accompany Fire Warriors and Pathfinders.[1a][2a]

MV52 Shield Drone

The MV52 Shield Drone is the most advanced and potent type of Tau Shield Drone, capable of harmlessly blocking shots even so strong as Imperial Battle Cannons. These advanced systems are thus far only given to Tau Commanders, most notably Commander Shadowsun.[14a]

Shield Drone
MV52 Shield Drone

MV71 Sniper Drone

Sniper Drones are Drones which are armed with a Longshot Pulse Rifle[22] or Rail Rifle and equipped with a Target Lock system, Targeting Array and stealth field generator. Sniper Drones operate in teams of three, directed by a single Tau spotter equipped with a Pulse Pistol, Networked Markerlight and Drone Controller. For best results, two to three of these teams will work together to provide pinpoint anti-personnel fire.[2c]

  • Sniper Drone
  • Firesight Marksman

Technical Drone

The DX-4 Technical Drone is used by Tau commanders and Fire Warrior teams on the battlefield as a mobile engineering unit. In place of weaponry each Technical Drone carries repair and sensor equipment, and can be used to fix damaged or destroyed equipment in the field.[7a]

Technical Drone.[9]

Guardian Drone

Guardian Drones (MV36) are used for defensive purposes. Their emitters project a protective energy field to nearby field amplifier units.[1a]

Guardian Drone

Advanced Guardian Drone

The MV37 Advanced Guardian Drone is an upgraded Guardian Drone used by Commander Shadowsun.[23]

Shadowsun with an MV37 Advanced Guardian Drone and MV62 Command-Link Drone[23]

Hover Drone

Hover Drones are larger units used as anti-gravity transports. They are frequently used by Ethereals.[1b]

Ethereal on a Hover Drone[1g]

DS13 Experimental Drone

The DS13 was designed by renowned Earth Caste engineers and was specially commissioned for Ethereals who prefer to lead the T'au Empire's forces from the front. They incorporate a cutting-edge force field emitter which obfuscates the whereabouts of the Hover Drone and its Ethereal rider when activated. DS13 also projects a defensive Energy Shield around the warriors who are defending the Ethereal.[26]

DS15 Experimental Drone

The DS15 is an adaptation of the DS13's design and sacrifices its Energy Shield in favor of mounting a Pulse-Capacitance Supercharger Module. When activated, the Supercharger increases the ferocity of nearby T'au ranged weaponry.[26]

Exploratory Drone

The DX-11 Exploratory Drone is a derivative of the DX-4 Technical Drone used by the Tau for space exploration operations, frequently operating alongside XV46 Battlesuits on Space Hulks. They are fitted with limited armament and an array of sensory and high-powered communications equipment, and are typically sent off to roam an area autonomously, searching for anything of interest while an operator views their findings and makes command decisions. If threatened the drone is programmed to conceal itself, transmit an alert, and await instructions, reserving its limited firepower only for moments of absolute necessity or when operating in direct support or defense of its operator.[15]

Drone Sentry Turret

Drone Sentry Turrets are automated weapons systems that contain an advanced processor, giving it basic intelligence much like a standard drone. A team of turrets are then networked together to form a defensive perimeter, making decisions independent of Tau operators. The turret itself consists of an armored hull with a pop-gun turret that may consist of Burst Cannons, Seeker Missiles,[11], Fusion Blasters or Plasma Rifles[20] which only activates when a suitable target is identified. Unlike Imperial Tarantula sentry guns, the drone intelligence can differentiate between friendly and enemy units effectively, choosing to ignore some targets in favour of others and capable of making independent targeting decisions.[21]

Drone turrets are often deployed by aircraft dropping them into position. Target points will be designated with Markerlights, and a high flying Orca or Manta will drop the sentry turrets, which incorporate a small Tau jetpack to direct and slow its descent into position. Once in place the turret will remain dormant unit until an enemy is identified.[21]

Drone sentry turrets are used in many different tactics circumstances – dropped ahead of a Tau force to ambush advancing enemy units and scouts[21] or as part of the defensive perimeter[11] for defending command posts, supply dumps or airfields.[21]

In some cases drone sentry turrets can also be strengthened by a Shield generator.[21]

Drone Sentry Turret[10]

DS8 Tactical Support Turret

DS8 Tactical Support Turrets are a type of light Drone-operated Turret used by Fire Warrior teams. They are deployed rapidly to the field[18], carried in racks along the flanks of Orca Dropships[1f] and most commonly are armed with a smaller Seeker Missile pod.[18] DS8 tactical support turrets are programmed to self-destruct should their sensors register that the enemy could capture or tamper with them.[1f]

DS8 Tactical Support Turret

See Also



Tau Empire Forces
Leadership EtherealTau CommanderFireblade
Troops Fire Warrior Team (Strike TeamBreacher Team) • Pathfinder TeamStealthsuit TeamDrone Squadron
Battlesuits XV8 Crisis (XV8XV8-02XV81XV84XV85XV86XV89)XV15 StealthXV22 StealthXV25 StealthXV95 GhostkeelXV88 BroadsideXV9 Hazard
XV46 VanguardXV104 RiptideXV107 R'varnaXV109 Y'vahraKV128 StormsurgeKX139 Ta'unar
Vehicles DevilfishDrone HarbingerHammerheadPiranhaSky RayTetraSwordfish
Aircraft BarracudaMantaOrcaSun SharkRazorsharkTiger SharkRemora
Auxiliaries Kroot ShaperKroot Carnivore SquadKroot HoundKrootoxKnarlocGreat KnarlocVespid StingwingGue'vesa
Special Characters Aun'vaAun'shiShadowsunFarsightDarkstriderLongstrike