Sensors, range unknown; Laser tracking system for docking; Quantum communication/control system
The YFX-M56S Core Splendor is a small fighter rolled out by ZAFT in CE 75 and designed to serve as the cockpit module of the ZGMF-X56S Impulse Gundam. Its mothership is the experimental assault carrier LHM-BB01 Minerva, and it is piloted by 18-year-old ZAFT Red Shinn Asuka. Later Core Splendor pilots include Lunamaria Hawke, Stella Loussier, and Athrun Zala.
The Core Splendor is designed first and foremost to function as the cockpit block of the Impulse Gundam, and its frame is designed to be variable, allowing it to transform from its fighter-like primary configuration into a more compact docking mode in order to combine with the Chest and Leg Flyers. The entire docking process being controlled from the Core Splendor, it is fitted with a quantum communication system based on a refined version of DRAGOON technology, which is operable by ordinary pilots and on Earth, as well as a laser tracking and lock-on system. In the event any part of the Impulse is critically damaged, the Core Splendor is also able to function as an escape pod, allowing the pilot to eject the damaged module and withdraw from the battle - or else to pull back until replacement Flyers can be dispatched, if possible.
At the same time, however, the Core Splendor is designed to be able if necessary to function on its own, and thus carries light armament, consisting of a pair of machine guns integrated into its frame and a air of missile launchers mounted to the underside of its wings. The latter however must be jettisoned prior to docking, as its placement would otherwise hinder the transformation and docking process.
A pair of light machine guns mounted in the nose of the Core Splendor, one on each side, usable only if the Core Splendor is operating on its own or not docked with the Impulse
QF908 6-tube anti-air missile launcher x2
Each of the Core Splendor's wings has a hardpoint which can optionally be equipped to carry one of these launchers, which fire AGM-33 "Ladybird" guided missiles. The launchers cannot be retained while docked into the Impulse, and must be jettisoned prior to docking.
In late CE 73, ZAFT began development of new prototype Gundams as part of the general restructuring of its forces under the New Millenium Project, the intent of which was to reorganize ZAFT into a fighting force capable of effectively countering any eventual conflict while remaining within the strict limits set down by the Junius Seven Treaty of 72. Since the Treaty banned the military use of the Neutron Jammer Cancellers, these new Gundams used conventional battery power instead, however, with the technological improvements over the years since the war's end, output and efficiency of battery power had tremendously improved.
In the beginning of CE 75, ZAFT rolled out the first two prototypes of this Second Stage series, one of which was the ZGMF-X56S Impulse Gundam, a multi-mode equipped with the highly experimental Core Block System.
The central component of this system is the YFX-M56S Core Splendor, a small fighter that forms its cockpit block; the Chest Flyer, which forms the Impulse's upper body, and the Leg Flyer, which forms its lower body are remotely controlled from the Core Splendor through a quantum communication computer system based on the DRAGOON System developed by ZAFT during the Bloody Valentine War, albeit simplified and adjusted to allow a normal pilot to use it, and tuned so that it can be used on Earth as well as in space, and dock together to form the completed mobile suit.
The Core Splendor along with the Impulse are developed and tested at the ZAFT arsenal colony Armory One, assigned to 18-year-old Shinn Asuka, a young pilot who was personally selected as its test pilot by Chairman Durendalthe Impulse is deployed for the first time on February 14, CE 75, when its mother ship, the prototype assault carrier Minervais forced to take off ahead of its official launching ceremony to intercept the Junius Seven memorial delegation and determine the reason why the colony remnants are falling out of orbit, and then go on to participate in all the major battles of the subsequent war.
A simplified version of the Core Splendor, the MF-101C escape pod, is also developed and first tested in the PLANT homeland. Unlike the Core Splendor, the MF-101C escape pod is designed solely to function as the cockpit block and, in the event of catastrophic damage, as an escape pod, and has no combat capabilities of its own. It is used in the Impulse's sibling unit, the ZGMF-X23S Saviour Gundam and its successor, as well as in the New Millenium production models, beginning with the ZGMF-1000 ZAKU Warrior. Likewise, the later ZGMF-X42R Destiny Gundam, though it eschews the complex Core Block System of the Impulse, is equipped with a similar escape pod system.
The Minerva carries a total of two Core Splendors. The first serves as the cockpit block of the Impulse Gundam, while the second, spare Core Splendor, which is there in the event of major damage to the first, is stored separately in a compartment in the ship's central catapult. After the capture of the GAT-X388 Gaia Gundam and its pilot, Shinn would take the second Core Splendor without authorization to return the dying Stella to the Alliance in a bid to save her life.
Much later in the war, the second Core Splendor would be used as the core of a second Impulse Gundam unit, which is briefly piloted by Athrun Zala before being permanently assigned to Stella Loussier following her joining the Minerva. At this time, as Shinn and Athrun receive their new machines, the first Impulse and its Core Splendor are assigned to Lunamaria Hawke.
Athrun would take Core Splendor 2 one more time, in the early stages of Operation Fury - the ZAFT attack on Orb - in an attempt to resolve the situation diplomatically and avoid a battle, an attempt that would fail. After this, Stella and Lunamaria would continue to use the Impulse Gundams through the end of the war.