The ZGMF-1000 ZAKU Warrior is a next-generation multi-mode mobile suit rolled out by ZAFT in CE 75 as a potential replacement for the GuAIZ-series. Notable pilots of the ZAKU Warrior include Yzak Joule, Dearka Elsman, Rey Za Burrel, and Lunamaria Hawke.
With the signing of the Treaty of Junius Seven in CE 72, strict limits were placed on the total size of the military forces of its signatories - the Earth Alliance, the PLANTs, and the Orb Union. Additionally, several technologies such as Mirage Colloid and the N-Jammer Canceller were banned by the treaty. Thus in CE 74, the PLANT government begins a massive restructuring of its military forces under the New Millenium Project, whose aim is to enable ZAFT to fight in any combat theater while still abiding by the treaty's restrictions by fielding smaller numbers of mobile suits capable of adapting to different situations.
Developed roughly in parallel with the experimental ZGMF-X56S Impulse Gundam, the ZAKU Warrior is designed to be able to meet that need. A mobile suit with excellent performance in its own right, the ZAKU's greatest asset is its ability to alter its combat role by switching between optional Wizard Packs, equipment sets similar to the Striker Packs developed by the Alliance. Additionally, it is equipped with the YF-101S mobile escape pod, a stripped-down and simplified version of the Impulse's Core Splendor. Initially only a small handful of units were produced, most of them assigned to unit commanders. The design proved itself a success in the earliest engagements of the second war against the Earth Alliance, easily surpassing the Alliance's Daggers, and the ZAKU Warrior eventually enters full-scale mass production later that year.
Three Wizard Packs were developed for the ZAKU Warrior: The EX-M Blaze Wizard mounted an array of thrusters as well as two high-capacity missile launchers, and was designed for high-mobility anti-MS and anti-ship combat. As its thrust is insufficient to allow atmospheric flight, it is more effectively used in space. The EX-A1 Gunner Wizard is designed for long-range fire support and bombardment, and is equipped with a high-energy long-range plasma beam cannon as well as a single multi-shot missile launcher similar to that of the Blaze Wizard. However, it lacks the Blaze Wizard's supplemental thrusters, so its mobility is very low. Finally the EX-K Tempest Wizard is designed for high-performance anti-MS combat on Earth, and grants the ZAKU Warrior atmospheric flight capability. The introduction of the ZGMF-2000 GOUF Ignitedrenders the Tempest Wizard obsolete however, and production of that particular pack is halted after only a few months, although the Gunner and Blaze Wizards are mass-produced.
A railgun mounted to the ZAKU's shoulder, it fires a high-density solid shell at supersonic speeds, giving them tremendous kinetic energy - and thus destructive power equal to a beam weapon, but with much lower energy consumption.
MMI-M633 beam assault rifle
The primary ranged weapon of the ZAKU is an MMI-M633 beam assault rifle, which unlike most beam rifles does not draw power from the mobile suit's battery. Instead, the rifle has its own independent battery, stored in a replaceable clip (similar to the technology used in the Eurasian Federation's CAT1-X Hyperion series), with a pair of extra clips attached to a shield mounted on the ZAKU's left shoulder.
Hand Grenade x4
The ZAKU has two hardpoints on each side of its waist capable of holding a single handgrenade, for a total of four. Several different types of grenade can be equipped: ZR30F fragmentation grenade, ZR20E high explosive grenade, ZR271 thermite incendiary grenade, ZR11Q flash grenade, or ZR13Q smoke grenade, and the different types can be mixed and matched freely.
MA-M8 beam tomahawk
Stored in a compartment of the ZAKU's shield, the beam tomahawk is the ZAKU's primary melée weapon. Thanks to its aerodynamic form, the beam tomahawk can be thrown quite easily, granting it limited ranged combat abilities.
MA-MR/G7 "Falx" Long Beam Axe
Essentially a pole-arm version of the beam tomahawk, which it replaces. This long-shafted weapon has a considerably greater range than the beam tomahawk and even than most beam sabers. Unlike the beam tomahawk's single blade, the long beam axe has a twin-headed design with a beam blade on both sides.
M68 "Cattus" 500mm recoilless cannon
The M68 "Cattus" 500mm recoilless cannon is a standard GINN armament that is typically used against larger, more heavily armored targets such as battleships. Due to similarity between the GINN and ZAKU the "Cattus" can easily be used by the latter.
The Gunner Wizard's main weapon - a powerful, long-range anti-ship beam weapon, though it is also of some effectiveness against mobile suits. When in use the cannon is slung under the right arm, with the left stabilizing it. When not in use the cannons is folded and stored on the Gunner Wizard pack. Because of the intense power requirements of the "Orthros", the Gunner Wizard pack comes with its own battery, mounted underneath the missile launcher.
20-tube multi-shot missile launcher
The Gunner Wizard mounts a single launcher, identical to the two launchers mounted to the Blaze Wizard Pack
Mounted to the Tempest Wizard are two MMI-M826 "Hydra" Gatling beam cannons. These weapons possess a very high rate of fire, though the power of each individual shot is somewhat decreased. Nonetheless, they are highly effective anti-MS weapons, easily capable of shredding the armor of most mobile suits.
In late CE 73, ZAFT began the New Millenium Project: a general restructuring of its forces, 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. As part of the project, several new technologies were developed to adapt to the Treaty's restrictions. One of the priorities of the new Millenium Project was the creation of a new model mass-production mobile suit that would be capable of adapting its combat capabilities to suit a variety of different potential situations. This new model would also be equipped with an escape system allowing the pilot to eject from and escape the unit if if were to become critically damaged.
In the beginning of CE 75, ZAFT rolls out the ZGMF-1000 ZAKU Warrior, the first trial mass-production machine developed under this project. Initially only a few dozen machines are produced, assigned to unit commanders and veteran pilots such as Yzak Joule and Dearka Elsman. Additionally, two ZAKU Warriors are assigned to ZAFT Red pilots Lunamaria Hawke and Rey Za Burrel onboard the new battleship Minerva.
Designed for modularity of operation, the base ZAKU itself has a well-rounded but basic armament set. Its true strength is its ability to equip an array of different equipment packs for different combat theaters: The long-range fire-support Gunner Wizard is designed for anti-ship attack and heavy bombardment, while the Blaze and Tempest Wizards are designed for high-mobility anti-mobile suit combat, in space and in Earth's atmosphere respectively. The Blaze Wizard can also be used in ground combat as well, with its large thruster array granting the ZAKU extremely high maneuverability, though unlike the Tempest Wizard it is incapable of atmospheric flight. The effectiveness of these equipment units is quickly proven, and although the Tempest Wizard is ultimately dropped, the Gunner and Blaze Wizard Packs are soon mass-produced. In the subsequent months, ZAFT would also roll out a second machine based on the ZAKU, the aerial combat unit ZGMF-2000 GOUF Ignited. By the war's end, both the ZAKU and the GOUF Ignited would completely replace their predecessors, the GuAIZ-R and the aging AMF-101 DINN.
Some months later in the war, a third prototype based on the ZAKU frame, the YMF-3000 DOM Trooper, is also produced as a potential replacement for ZAFT's BuCUE and GaZuOOT mobile suits. The war ends, however, before the DOM Trooper can enter mass production.
The base form of the ZAKU Warrior is highly reminescent of the original MS-06 Zaku II
The names of the "Hydra" beam gatling guns of the Tempest Wizard and "Orthros" heavy beam cannon of the Gunner Wizard both draw from Greco-Roman mythology - specifically, the Twelve Labors of Herakles/Hercules; the former is a many-headed serpent, who would regrow two heads every time one was cut off. The latter is a two-headed hellhound, brother to the more well-known Kerberos/Cerberus. Both were slain by Herakles (During his Second and Tenth labors, respectively)