Pilot only, in standard cockpit in torso using YFX-M56 Core Splendor
Overall height: base unit 17.76 meters; Force Impulse 18.41 meters; Sword Impulse 19.37 meters; Blast Impulse 19.21 meters; Storm Impulse 18.74 meters.
Max gross weight: base unit 63.54 metric tons; Force Impulse 78.30 metric tons; Sword Impulse 78.93 metric tons; Blast Impulse 84.68 metric tons; Storm Impulse 85.6 metric tons
ultracompact energy battery, power output rating 4820 kW
Equipment & Design Features
Sensors, range unknown; Variable Phase Shift(VPS) Armor; Core Block System; Deuterion Beam Energy Transfer System; Laser tracking system for docking; Quantum communication/control system; Silhouette Pack hardpoint; MMI-RG59V Mobile Shield
Unit 1: Shinn Asuka, Lunamaria Hawke
Unit 2: Athrun Zala, Stella Loussier
The ZGMF-X56S Impulse Gundam is a prototype next-generation multi-mode mobile suit rolled out by ZAFT in CE 75 and equipped with several experimental technologies. Its mothership is the experimental assault carrier LHM-BB01 Minerva. ZAFT fields a total of two Impulse Gundams. Unit One is piloted by 18-year-old ZAFT Red Shinn Asuka, then Lunamaria Hawke. Unit Two is briefly piloted by Athrun Zalabefore being assigned to Stella Loussier.
The Impulse Gundam was designed based on the concept of a lightly-armed multi-role mobile suit equipping different equipment setups to suit a variety of combat theaters, an idea pioneered by the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam. However, it is equipped with several technologies that place the Impulse as firmly superior to its predecessor. The first of these is the Deuterion Beam Energy Transfer System, which allows the Impulse to remotely recharge its battery without needing to return to its mothership. The Second is the Core Block System: The Impulse's upper and lower bodies are formed by combining two autonomous, self-propelled units - the Chest Flyer and Leg Flyer - around the Core Splendor, a small, lightly armed and highly agile fighter that forms the Impulse' cockpit block. This allows the Impulse to, if it is damaged, replace its damaged components - again without needing to return to base, although the Chest and Leg Flyers are vulnerable to attack, so having a second unit to provide cover fire is preferable if attempting to replace Flyers in combat. Though generally deployed as a single mobile suit, the Impulse is capable of launching in its separated form as well. 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. The movement of the Chest and Leg Flyers is controlled remotely from the Core Splendor, using a simplified form of the DRAGOON System's technology.
The base Impulse Gundam itself is lightly armed, with only a beam rifle, shield, and a pair of "Vajra" beam sabers. The Impulse's shield is unusual however in that instead of being a single plate of armor covered in anti-beam coating, it is composed of separate plates and designed to expand to a larger size for greater coverage, or to collapse into a much more compact state if mobility is needed. The Impulse's shield moreover uses a new type of beam-reflective coating that deflects instead of dissipating intercepted beam attacks, giving it greater durability.
However, these weapons can be supplemented by one of three Silhouette Packs, equipment packs that are launched to the Impulse from its mother ship, allowing mid-battle equipment changes. The Silhouette Packs incorporate the same semi-autonomous tracking and remote control capabilities as the Chest and Leg Flyers, and likewise can be manually controlled from the Core Splendor's cockpit, though the actual docking procedure, once initiated, is entirely automated.
The first of these is the Force Silhouette, a flight pack that visually resembles a more compact version of the Alliance's Aile Striker, granting the Impulse full-fledged atmospheric flight capability as well as adding two more beam sabers to its armament. The second is the Sword Silhouette, a close-combat equipment set that is similar to the weapons of the GAT-X133 Sword Calamity: A pair of heavy anti-ship beam swords, which can be combined into a single dual-bladed weapon, as well as two beam boomerangs mounted to the backpack. Unlike the Alliance's melee units, the Sword Impulse lacks any rocket anchors, although it retains the Impulse's shield and beam rifle. The third and final Silhouette Pack is the heavy-artillery Blast Silhouette, whose primary weapon is a pair of high-powered beam cannons. To this it adds two hypervelocity railguns and two multi-shot four-tube missile launchers, as well as a pair of beam javelins for close-quarters combat - in addition, of course, to the Impulse’s own beam rifle and shield. Whereas the Force and Sword Silhouette were largely comparable to their Alliance predecessors, the Blast Silhouette is vastly superior to the Launcher, with more than double the firepower and much higher mobility thanks to a pair of large vectored-thrust boosters and a secondary thruster on its backpack. Several months into the war, the Force Silhouette is phased out as a fourth Silhouette Pack, code-named "Storm Silhouette" is delivered to the Minerva. Much like the IWSP developed by Orb and later refined by the Alliance, the Storm Silhouette acts as an amalgam of all three of its predecessors - its large array of thrusters give it higher speed and maneuverability than the Force Silhouette, and it is armed with a pair of high-energy beam cannons and two handheld anti-MS beam swords. The Storm Silhouette, as well as the Force, Sword, and Blast, would provide the combined developmental basis for the highly advanced prototype ZGMF-X42R Destiny Gundam.
The final innovation installed in the Impulse Gundam was a refinement of Phase Shift technology, Variable-Phase Shift (VPS) Armor, which functions similarly to Phase Shift but is more energy efficient and is also able to automatically adjust its settings for optimum power efficiency depending on the mobile suit's configuration, which can cause the armor to change colors. Because this process is automated, it can be done in the field, and takes place instantly whenever the Impulse equips one of its Silhouette Packs.
Like most other mobile suits, the Impulse also mounts a pair of light machineguns for use in close-range against enemy units or to shoot down missiles. Unusually, the Impulse mounts these guns in its chest rather than the head.
MA-M941 "Vajra" Beam Saber x2
For close combat, the Impulse is equipped with two beam sabers stored in racks on each hip
MA-BAR72 High-energy Beam Rifle
The Impulse's sole truly long-range weapon, it is a fairly ordinary beam rifle, which is stored on a hardpoint on the Impulse's rear waist when not in use.
MMI-RG59V Mobile Shield
As with most mobile suits, the Impulse mounts a physical shield on its left arm for defense. The Impulse's shield however is far more advanced than that on most other suits. It is usually a very compact shield, however it can be expanded to a larger form. Additionally, the shield is equipped with a more advanced anti-beam coating that is capable of reflecting rather than dissipating enemy attacks, giving it far greater durability.
MMI-RGX47 Assault Shield
Late in the war, the MMI-RG59V shield is replaced by the same Assault Shield used by the Destiny Gundam, combining a compact physical shield with additional close-range armament, consisting of:
MX2351 "Validus Fulgor" beam shield generator
A powerful beam shield generator, it uses same underlying technology as beam sabers to create a hexagonal beam shield capable of resisting a barrage from even capital-class beam weapons, up to and including positron cannons.
EEQ8S "Grapple Stinger" extensional arrestor
An anchor mounted to the shield, which can be fired on a line and retracted, developed based on those of the GuAIZ. It is capable of easily slicing through the armor of most mobile suits.
MMI-712 "Beagalltach" High-output beam blade
A heavy beam blade for use against mobile suits, mounted to the tip of the shield. Less powerful than the Moralltach Anti-Ship Beam Saber, it is still more powerful and has a longer reach than conventional beam sabers
The only weapon gained by the Impulse when using the Force Silhouette, these are a pair of beam sabers stored on the backpack, similarly to the Aile Striker's. These sabers are identical to those of the base Impulse.
The Sword Impulse's main weapon, a pair of heavy metal swords with a beam edge, which when ignited runs along the entire front length of the blade as well as up towards the tip. These weapons are designed primarily as slashing weapons for use against enemy ships, and can be combined into an ambidextrous, dual-bladed weapon. However, they are just as effective against mobile suits. They are stored on the sides of the Sword Silhouette when not in use.
RQM-50 "Flash Edge" Beam Boomerangs
Mounted on the back of the Sword Silhouette, these two boomerangs are similar to the "Midas Messer" boomerangs of the Sword Strike, and serve essentially the same purpose.
These two powerful cannons are the most powerful weapon in the Impulse's arsenal. Mounted laterally to the Blast Silhouette's back, they are swiveled forward and fired below the Impulse's arm.
MMI-M16XE2 "Déluge" hypervelocity Rail Cannons
Mounted on top of the Blast Silhouette on the front edge of its two large secondary thrusters, these weapons fire forward over the Impulse's shoulder.
MMI-GMF89 Multi-Shot Quad Missile Launchers
On the upper end of each of the Blast Impulse's "Kerberos" beam cannons is a single four-tube missile launcher, with each launcher capable of firing a sizable number of AGM-141 "Firefly" guided missiles, an improved version of the AGM-138 "Firebee" missile of the ZGMF-1000 ZAKU Warrior
MA-M80 "Defiant" Beam Javelins
Unlike the Launcher Strike, the Impulse is equipped with close-combat weapons: a pair of beam javelins, essentially long-shafted, short-bladed beam sabers that can be used to fend off enemy mobile suits at close range. Stored in a compartment along the upper edge of the "Kerberos" beam cannons, the shaft is anti-beam coated, and the javelins' length allows the Blast Impulse to counter enemy melee weapons at a sufficient distance to allow the Impulse to counterattack with its own heavy weapons.
The Storm Silhouette's principal ranged weapon, a pair of beam cannons that are situated over the shoulders.
MMI-711K "Caliburn" heavy anti-MS beam sword x2
A pair of handheld beam swords, stored on the backpack. They are shorter than the Excalibur beam swords of the Sword Silhouette and ill-suited for anti-ship use, but are extremely effective against mobile suits.
QF918 High-capacity anti-MS missile launcher x2
A hardpoint on each wing allows the Storm Silhouette to mount a pair of twelve-shot launchers for AGM-33 "Ladybird" guided missiles.
The Impulse is equipped to use the experimental Deuterion Beam System to remotely recharge its battery, allowing it to theoretically remain in combat far longer without having to return to its mother ship to recharge.
Variable Phase Shift Armor
A refined and more energy-efficient version of Phase-Shift Armor, which is also able to automatically adjust its settings for optimum power efficiency. When the Impulse docks with or changes its Silhouette Pack, its computer system automatically adjusts the VPS to the most optimal configuration instantly, resulting in its color changing.
Core Block System
The Impulse is designed based around the highly experimental Core Block System, which consists of separate, remotely-operated Flyer Units for the upper and lower body, called the Chest and Leg Flyers. These are controlled wirelessly from the Core Splendor, and dock together with it to form the completed Impulse. Most of the time the Impulse launches already in its docked form, however it can be launcher as separate units through the Minerva's central catapult.
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. As part of the project, several new technologies were developed to adapt to the Treaty's restrictions. One such technology was Variable Phase Shift armor, a new version of the older Phase-Shift technology. This armor is less energy intensive than the old variant and can also automatically change the strength and thus the energy consumption of the armor. To cope with the fact that nuclear engines on mobile suits were now forbidden, the Deuterion Beam Energy Transfer System was developed, which allows a suit of the Second Stage series to immediately recharge its battery by receiving energy through a deuterion beam from a ship equipped with this system. Additionally, the Second Stage series, like all other mobile suits developed under the New Millenium project, were equipped with escape systems allowing the pilot to eject from and escape the unit if if were to become critically damaged.
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 mobile suit developed as a multi-mode mobile suit capable of varying its equipment to suit a variety of combat scenarios. This is done through the use of Silhouette Packs, which are exchangeable backpacks similar to the Earth Alliance' Striker Packs - making the Impulse a conceptual descendent of the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam, in spite of the fact that ZAFT never captured that particular machine. In conjunction with the Silhouette Packs, the Impulse was equipped with the highly experimental Core Block System. What this entailed was that rather than a singular unit, the Impulse is composed of four separate components: 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; and finally the Silhouette Flyer, an independent, unmanned aircraft which acts as a delivery system for the Silhouette Packs for the Impulse. The three Flyers 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. Thus while the Impulse normally launches as a single unit, it is also capable of deploying in its separate components. A simplified version of the Core Splendor is developed subsequently for use in the Impulse's sibling unit, the ZGMF-X23S Saviour Gundam, as well as in the pre-production mobile suit ZGMF-1000 ZAKU Warrior and its successors.
The Impulse is 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 Durendal the 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. After falling to Earth, Shinn and the Impulse distinguished themselves repeatedly in combat against the Alliance once the Second War broke out, first in a battle outside Orb in which he destroyed several ships as well as a massive enemy mobile armor, then again in the Indian Ocean, as well as in an operation against an Alliance outpost in the Gulnahan Ravine and in a later attack by the Alliance, supported by an Orb fleet. During these battles, Shinn found himself several times engaging against the enemy ground-combat Gaia Gundam, until he and fellow pilot and mentor Athrun Zala eventually defeated and captured the Gaia and its pilot.
Late in the war, the Impulse's aerial-combat Force Silhouette is phased out and a new Silhouette Pack is rolled out, the Storm Silhouette. Built on an enhanced version of the Force Silhouette's base, it has significantly higher speed and maneuverability, putting in nearly on par with the legendary Freedom Gundam. Additionally, the Storm Silhouette improves on the Impulse's ranged and melee capabilities with the "Caliburn" Anti-MS heavy beam sword, a more compact weapon loosely derived from the Sword Impulse's "Excalibur", as well as a pair of "Fenris" beam cannons. Shinn would sortie with the Storm Impulse only twice: The first time in Germany, against the Atlantic Federation's giant heavy-bombardment mobile armor GFAS-X1 Destroy. The second time would be during Operation: Angel Down, during which Shinn engages and defeats Kira Yamato's Freedom Gundam.
Shortly after this, Shinn would receive the new next-generation high-performance ZGMF-X42R Destiny Gundam, and his Impulse Gundam is reassigned to Lunamaria Hawke. Around the same time, the Minerva's spare Core Splendor would be used as the core of a second Impulse Gundam unit, which is briefly piloted in training exercises against Shinn by Athrun Zala before being assigned to new recruit Stella Loussier.
Both Impulse Gundams, with their new pilots, would launch and participate in Operation Ragnarök, the successful attack on Heaven's Base, the Atlantic Federation's Headquarters, in Iceland.
Only one Impulse Gundam - Lunamaria's Unit 1 - would participate in the subsequent Operation Fury, the ZAFT attack on Orb, as Athrun had taken the second Core Splendor in a last-ditch attempt to resolve the situation diplomatically. Stella would instead pilot Athrun's own ZGMF-YX29R Knight Saviour Gundam, but Athrun would reclaim the Saviour after the failure of Operation Fury, and Stella and Lunamaria would continue to distinguish themseves at the Impulse Gundams' controls in the Battles at Heaven's Base and in Orb, as well as the First Battle of Daedalus. Shortly thereafter the Impulse Gundams are, at Shinn's request, custom-fitted with the same composite shield as his own Destiny Gundam, and the modified Impulse Gundams would use their new equipment in the Second Battle of Daedalus, which brings the war to an end.