The Tiger Shark is the Tau Empire's fighter-bomber. It is more maneuverable than its Imperial Navy counterpart, the Marauder Bomber, but carries fewer weapons: a twin-linked set of ion cannons, a twin-linked set of wing-mounted missile pods, and burst cannons at the wing-tips. The Tiger Shark's main role seems to be the deployment of drones. Its drone racks can deploy a shower of remote weapons platforms anywhere over the battlefield. The Tiger Shark's payload of fourteen gun drones, are mounted in the aforementioned quick-deployment rack, which can be replaced with a set of six seeker missiles.
Tiger Sharks are never as numerous as the Barracuda, but have many features and systems in common with it. All crew come from the Air Caste, giving them the natural advantage of superior three-dimensional awareness and tolerance for higher acceleration speeds, and more Gs in the turn, than a human pilot. Which is strange since Air Caste members are specifically mentioned to evolve for low-Gs, so actually flying in high acceleration environments should actually be detrimental to them. But alas, that's GW's 'biology' for you. Like the Barracuda, different Air Caste Septs operate slightly different versions.
The aircraft has two crew members, a pilot and a navigator/weapons operator. Their cockpit is also an escape pod, which can detach from the aircraft's fuselage and has limited gravitic mobility to bring the crew safely back to the ground.
In 9th Edition, the vanilla Tiger Shark has two of the Barracuda AX-5-2's primary weapons, two burst cannons and two missile pods on a T8 chassis with 16 wounds and BS2+ for a bit over 400 points is a great value. Can swap out its drone carrying ability for Heavy 2D6 S6 Ap-2 D2 which means that giving this bad boy two ion cannons can make him an ungodly rape machine against heavy infantry, or slap on 2 railguns and go to town with 4 railgun shots per shooting phase. If you're not dealing with enemy LOW this will probably be a better choice over the AX-1-0, as it can dish out more dice against a larger variety of targets.
This is the Tau's best air superiority fighter with effectively BS2+ (all main weapons are Heavy type) against "hard to hit" meaning you will hit at least 2 of those railguns, add in the rest of the dakka and you deal out some serious anti-air pain with this thing while still having great anti-ground capability to boot. Take seekers and use "refuel, rearm, repair" to add 6 seekers back after you unload them for extra value, beating skyrays at their own game. If loaded up with 2 heavy burst cannons and 6 seekers, this thing can dish out 26+2d6 shots per turn, giving you on average over 40 dice to throw around raping infantry.
Tiger Shark AX-1-0
After their first encounter with the Imperium's Titans during the Damocles Crusade (in which the Tau got their blue asses kicked wherever the Imperium deployed one), it became clear to the Air and Earth Castes that they needed something that could stand up to such massive war machines. To that end, they developed the Tiger Shark AX-1-0 variant, which replaced the ion cannons with fiercely powerful twin-linked heavy railguns (which hitherto had only been mounted on Mantas) and the gun drones with six seeker missiles, with the option to add six more. To make a long story short, it worked. In their first deployment on Taros (as depicted in Imperial Armour Volume Three: The Taros Campaign), a Tiger Shark AX-1-0 first dropped a Warhound Scout Titan's void shields with a missile barrage, and then destroyed it with a blast from the heavy railguns; the Warhound's three fellow Titans decided to withdraw rather than face the same fate.
Technically, this is impossible as the Tigershark’s missiles are nothing special and far too weak to be any threat at all to a Titan’s shields or armor. Also, because Void Shields basically banish incoming attacks, the missiles would be useless because they would not detonate.
Fortunately for the Imperium, the AX-1-0 variant is still in its early experimental phase, but given that it is built almost entirely of stock parts (Tiger Shark airframes with Manta weapons), a wider rollout is probable, especially considering the unit's immediate success on Taros. Since the Taros campaign, the AX-1-0 Tiger Shark has proven a valuable psychological weapon for the Tau; the mere possibility that the Tau have a few of these up their sleeve has been successful in forcing the Imperium to be a little more careful about how it deploys its Titans.
And let's not forget that the first time the AX-1-0 was used in the field, it not only killed a Warhound Titan, it also killed the princep controlling it—a one-in-a-million individual with enough willpower to bend an AI to his or her will, making the AX-1-0 an even bigger "fuck you" to the Mechanicus than first thought.
There's also that little bit about a Titan —a giant, expensive war machine that takes decades-to-centuries to build— getting into single combat with a flyer that doesn't take even remotely close to the same amount of time or resources to build and promptly getting its arse unceremoniously kicked.
At least that's how Forgeworld envisioned the fluff to be....until GW decided to
pander to the weebs fuck over their fluff and have the earth caste changing their whole opinion about bigger-than-Riptide suits to build EVEN BIGGER suits to counter the Imperium's huge walker.
What really happened was the Imperium realized what was needed and titan legions and knight walkers were given extensive AA support. This made it impossible for the Tiger Shark to survive, the venerable Manta might make it through the AA screen but they are few and far between. Yet instead of creating ground variant of Tiger Shark like Imperial Shadowsword or Eldar Cobra, they created battlesuits of comparable size to deal with the more common Titans deployed by the Imperium. Either that or the Tau made giant battlesuits to wipe out weaker forces like how the Imperium uses them and reserve Mantas for dealing with Titans. Possibly in conjunction with their most powerful missiles set to detonate before reaching the shield so as to actually be effective.
Tiger Shark AX-2-2
Forge World only made a model and rules for this Tiger Shark variant for its Aeronautica Imperialis game. The Tiger Shark AX-2-2 is first and foremost, a carrier, command and control variant of the Tiger Shark, and is outfitted with sophisticated tracking and communications equipment to support such a role. Specifically, the AX-2-2 replaces the big guns and drone rack with a bay for two Remora Drone Stealth Fighters via underslung gravitic hooks and the communication equipment required to control them.
This communication equipmentis basically a built-in Drone Controller so that the Pilot could play vidya gaems and aid the deployment and use of the Remora Fighters. The controller therefore, turns the AC-2-2 inti a mothership of sorts, controlling and directing the Drone fighters in battle. If the AX-2-2 is destroyed or disengages the fighters will slow down due to their limited artificial intelligence.
Due to the fact that it is essentially a mini-aircraft carrier. The AX-2-2 in Aeronautica acts more as a force multiplier. While it sacrifices the firepower noted for a Tigershark, the AX-2-2's Remoras act as good distraction carnifexes; protecting more important assets by harassing enemy fighter craft. It can only carry two however, so care must be taken on how you use the Remoras.
|Forces of the Tau|
|Command:||Cadre Fireblade - Ethereal - Ethereal Guard - Tau Commander|
|Troops:||Drone Squadron - Fire Warrior Team - Pathfinder Team - Stealthsuit Team|
|Auxiliaries:||Gue'vesa - Kroot (Great Knarloc - Kroot Carnivore Squad - Kroot Hound |
Krootox - Lesser Knarloc - Shaper) - Nicassar - Vespid Stingwing
|Battlesuits:||Battlesuits (XV02 Pilot Battlesuit - XV15 Stealthsuit - XV22 Command Suit |
XV25 Stealthsuit - XV46 Vanguard Void Suit - XV-8 Crisis Battlesuit
XV88 Broadside Battlesuit - XV9 Hazard Battlesuit - XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit - XV107 R'varna Battlesuit - XV109 Y'Vahra Battlesuit
KV128 Stormsurge Ballistic Suit - KX139 Ta'Unar Supremacy Armour)
|Vehicles:||Devilfish - Hammerhead - Hover Chair - Piranha - Sky Ray - Tetra - Swordfish|
|Flyers:||Barracuda - Razorshark - Remora - Sun Shark - Tiger Shark|
|Kor'Vattra:||Manta - Orca - Automated Fighting Drone |
Automated Barge Drone - Automated Bombing Drone