A class of land battleship developed for the occupation of ZAFT-controlled territory on Earth during the First Junius War, the Lesseps-class continues to see use as of CE 75 largely due to its effectiveness against ground targets and its large mobile weapon capacity.
The Lesseps-class’s distinguishing feature is its scale system, which propels it by liquefying sand and literally sailing across the desert; this also enables it to travel at sea, and in fact the Lesseps class is fitted with ten launchers for torpedoes, though these can also be used to launch missiles. Because the scale system performs poorly on most kinds of terrain, in C.E. 73 many Lesseps-class ships were refit with conventional tank treads, which allowed the ship to move unimpeded on more solid ground. The tradeoff is that unlike their predecessors, the refit Lesseps-class ships are no longer able to operate over the water.
Unusually, the Lesseps class lacks any linear catapults, being equipped with a single conventional launch bay. However, as it was designed specifically to use the quadrupedal ground-combat TMF/A-802 BuCUE, this was deemed unnecessary. In addition, it sometimes uses a pair of slow but heavily armed TFA-2 ZuOOTs on its upper deck as a pair of extra turrets, and can hold an impressive 16 mobile suits in its hangar.
A propulsion system which uses the vibrations of tiny scales to move through water, sand, or loose soil. These scales are somewhat delicate, so the system cannot be used in the high-pressure environment of the deep sea, and their effectiveness over harder terrain is extremely limited - mobility is greatly reduced, and the scales can rapidly become damaged. When used over sand or similarly loose terrain, the scale system works by liquefying the ground and propelling the ship forward, allowing it to cruise through the sand as if were sailing through water, and a vessel equipped with this system can move in any direction with nearly equal ease.
During the First Junius War, ZAFT commissioned the creation of the Lesseps-class battleship with the intention that it patrol the land, just as the Vosgulov-class submarines dominate/patrol the sea. ZAFT also commissioned the smaller Petrie-class as an escort for the Lesseps-class. The first ship of the class was made famous by its commander, the legendary Andrew Waltfeld, known as the Desert Tiger for his great tactical ability and high skill in operating the then-new TMF/A-802 BuCUE.
Though the critically-damaged Lesseps was abandoned following a final engagement with the Alliance's assault carrier Archangel, additional ships of the class continued to see action throughout the First Junius War.
In CE 73, many Lesseps-class ships are fitted with tank treads, allowing them to operate on terrain where the Lesseps-class would previously have been disadvantaged due to the fragility of its scale motors. A few years later, the Second Junius War breaks out, and the Lesseps-class would see action in several areas. Most notably, Lesseps- and Petrie-class ships belonging to the Ruddle and Hawkins Teams would attempt to destroy the Atlantic Federation-operated Lohengrin Gate, an outpost located in the Gulnahan Ravine defended by a positron cannon. They would fail in this attempt because of a powerful new Alliance mobile armor, which thwarted their attack, and their forces would subsequently be decimated by an attack from the Alliance's positron cannon - which gave the base its name. A second attempt would later be made, this time by the Ruddle Team's surviving Lesseps-class Desmond and the single Petrie-class Henry Carter, supported by the Minervaand its mobile suits. This attempt would end in victory for ZAFT, with the Lohengrin outpost destroyed and the nearby town liberated as a result.
Lesseps-class ships would continue to see action in later engagements in the war as well, notably during the rampage of the giant mobile armor GFAS-X1 Destroy across Eurasia. Several ships of the class were destroyed by the massive mobile armor before it was finally shot down. Type-1 Lesseps-class ships would also participate in the attacks on Heaven's Base and Orb as part of ZAFT's forces.