The Kir'la (Warden)-class Gunship is a Tau spacecraft Escort that serves as part of the Tau Empire's Battlefleet, known as the Kor'or'vesh in the Tau Lexicon. It represents a radical departure in gunship design for the Tau Empire's fleet in that while it still requires towing via Gravitic Hooks by larger vessels in order to keep up with the rest of a fleet, it is designed for and crewed primarily as a combat vessel; as opposed to being a re-configured cargo lighter such as the Kass'l (Orca)-class Gunship. Because of this, the Kir'la can seamlessly integrate itself into Kor'or'vesh flotillas, though it will still operate independently as an escort squadron when assigned to escort Gal'leath or Il'fannor vessels of the Kor'vattra. Because of the high experience levels of crews assigned to Kir'la’s, and the ships' superior manoeuvring qualities when compared to the K'essl, the Kir'la has proven to be a formidable adversary to attacking raiders. However, its numbers will not be sufficient to replace the Kess'l in active service for quite some time because of its complexity to manufacture.
Despite technological advances in Ether Drive technology, the Kir'la’s small size made it extremely difficult to put an efficient interstellar drive system into its hull. Thus, they lack faster-than-light capabilities and must always be towed into combat and launched after their mother ship enters a system. The Or'es El'leath (Custodian)-class Battleship is specially designed to quickly deploy these vessels immediately upon entering combat, and it operates with the Kir'la exclusively as its towed gunship escort. While Wardens have been on occasion been used in other roles and paired with other ships that have Gravitic Hooks, they were designed primarily to protect their vitally important carrier battleships and will rarely be seen too far away from their sides. In battle, Warden’s will commonly operate as escort squadrons that can also include Kir'shasvre (Castellan)-class Ecorts as part of their ranks.
All Warden-class Gunships, as standard, are armed with a prow set of both Railgun and Ion Cannon batteries as their primary armament. Warden-class Gunships also feature standard Tau starship gravitic shielding, and a single defensive turret mounted on their hulls.
- Battlefleet Gothic Compendium 2010, pg. 161
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pg. 213