Phase Shift, or "PS" armor, is an armor system that uses electricity to reduce the damage from all forms of physical attacks although in most practicalities, PS armor makes a mobile suit virtually immune to solid body impact attacks. The manufacturing of PS armor can only be achieved under microgravity. When PS armor powers up, a hissing sound can be heard and the grey surface of the mobile suit's armor is overlaid in color, which appears to be alterable by entering different values in the Armor Voltage section of the OS. Once powered up, the PS armor requires a steady flow of energy to maintain although power consumption spikes momentarily whenever the mobile suit is hit.
ZAFT commander Andrew Waltfeld, after watching the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam fight, calculated that the Strike can take approximately 76 hits from projectiles before the energy usage drains the battery. This example illustrates that even solid ballistic weapons can eventually overpower Phase Shift Armor. Most beam weapons are able to overpower PS Armor faster than ballistic weapons. However, should a power failure occur, caused by either prolonged use or the use of high energy beam weapons, which will further drain the mobile suit's battery, the PS armor will power down, leaving the mobile suit vulnerable to even the simplest physical attack. Phase Shift armor is also able to protect the unit from great heat, thus making atmospheric entry possible. Currently, the upper limit of Phase Shift armor is unknown.
Because PS armor draws energy off of a mobile suit, the suits so equipped must have a means of replenishing that energy, or risk power depletion. During the war, the existence of Neutron Jammers limited mobile suits and mobile armors to operate on an energy battery (some mobile suits were equipped with various turbine engines to extend their operating time, but almost none had truly unlimited operational ability). Due to the limited amount of energy within each battery only a certain amount of power is ever allocated to the PS armor system. This limitation prevents the armor from being able to nullify higher forms of energy such as beam weapons. Because of this, most Phase Shift-armored mobile suits carry a shield with some sort of defensive measures against beam weaponry, such as anti-beam coating or a laminated armor surface.
Nuclear power could give a PS armored mobile suit theoretically unlimited operating time. However, during the First Alliance-PLANT War, the widespread use of N-Jammers made this impossible without the use of Neutron Jammer Cancellers; afterward, the Junius Treaty outlawed nuclear-powered mobile suits. Only a few nuclear-powered mobile suits were made in any event, including the YMF-X000A Dreadnought Gundam, ZGMF-X09A Justice Gundam, ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam, ZGMF-X11A Regenerate Gundam, ZGMF-X12A Testament Gundam, ZGMF-X13A Providence Gundam, and the ZGMF-X999A ZAKU Trial Type. Each of these units incorporated an N-Jammer Canceller in their design, negating the effects of the N-Jammers in the field. With the tremendous amount of energy made available through the use of nuclear power, even greater amounts of energy could now be allocated to PS armor. ZAFT's superweapon GENESIS allocated so much power to its PS armor that it was able to nullify direct energy beam attacks from the Eternal and Kusanagi, including the Kusanagi's "Lohengrin" Positron Blaster Cannons.
Orb also improved the PS armor with their own technology and installed it on the MBF-02 Strike Rouge. This minor improvement allowed the Strike Rouge to configure attributes of its PS armor, such as changing its power usage and strength as well as the colors. Unlike VPS (see below), this must be done outside of combat.
Trans Phase Armor
During the First Alliance-PLANT War, OMNI Enforcer experimented with ways to improve the usefulness of PS Armor, leading to the development of Trans Phase Armor (TP) in which the equipped suit do not change color when the armor is activated. TP armor is basically a two-layer armor system, with the PS Armor on the inner layer of normal armor. The inner PS Armor only activates when the outer layer is breached, thus saving energy and preventing the consumption of large quantities of energy non-stop until the armor is turned off. This results in TP armored units having a longer operational time as well as more energy for their power-hungry beam weapons. However, TP armored mobile suits is still vulnerable to heavy attack from multiple vectors (a sufficiently powerful weapon could also overpower the TP armor). The most notable examples mobile suits with Trans Phase Armor include the Earth Alliances second-generation GAT-X Gundams - the GAT-X131 Calamity Gundam, the GAT-X252 Forbidden Gundam, and the GAT-X370 Raider Gundam. At around the same time, Junk Guild's Lowe Guele also thought of such a two-layer armor system and it was installed around the cockpit of the MBF-P03secondL Gundam Astray Blue Frame Second L by Orb Union's Morgenroete, Inc..
Variable Phase Shift Armor
Developed by ZAFT, the Variable Phase Shift armor is the latest version of phase shift armor and the most energy efficient. It allows the MS to automatically alter the strength and by extension the power consumption of the PS Armor, depending on what combat configuration or situation that MS is in. As a result, the MS's colors changes. Unlike Strike Rouge's color-shifting PS, VPS is capable of changing its strength in the field, however the programming for this is still most likely done off-field beforehand.
The VPS technology was first applied on the Second Stage Series of mobile suits built by ZAFT in CE 73. The ZGMF-X56S Impulse Gundam had at three known VPS settings, one for each Silhouette packs. The Earth Alliance also acquired the technology, most likely reverse engineered from the Second Stage units stolen from Armory One. Mobile suits produced as a part of the EA's Actaeon Project are all equipped with VPS armor.
The theory behind Phase Shift armor was first established by Dr. Maurice Gale, a professor at the Heliopolis industrial college. The technology was still being researched by the Advanced Space Dynamic corporation when it was adopted by the G Project. Its development, led by Captain Murrue Ramius, was completed at the Atlantic Federation Heaven Island Technology Lab.
All five units of the first phase GAT-X series were equipped with Phase Shift armor. Later, both ZAFT and the Orb Union's Morgenroete, Inc. were able to study and duplicate the armor design. Over time several different versions of PS armor were developed, which are more efficient than the original version. As a result, the first variant is not produced anymore.
- The concept of the Phase Shift armor is the inverse of Universal Century's I-field generator, which defends against beam weaponry but has no effect against physical attack.
- The Phase Shift armor is similar to the Luna Titanium Alloy (Gundarium Alloy) from the Universal Century that can withstand strong physical attacks from the Zeon mobile suits, such as the Zaku's 120mm and 90mm shells and even the Dom's 360mm Bazooka.
- Whether or not the color of Phase Shift armor is related to its toughness is unclear. It was stated that the Testament Gundam's VPS armor shifts to red during close combat for increased armor strength. However, the Strike Rouge's red PS armor was said to be roughly on par with the Strike's in terms of durability, and only differ in terms of power efficiency. There have also been examples which suggest that PS armor's color was purely decorative, such as Andrew Waltfield changing Gaia Gundam's VPS armor to match his personal color.
- In Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 and Super Robot Wars J, the Phase Shift armor was implemented awkwardly - while Beam weapons still harmed them, a lot of attacks were either greatly reduced in damage or outright negated despite being energy-based, such as Mazinger-Z's Breast Fire and Getter Robo G's Getter Beam, both energy attacks but not actually Gundam-type beam weaponry. Even some Gundam-type beam weapons, such as ν Gundam's Fin Funnels and Freedom Gundam's HiMAT Full Burst are still affected by Phase Shift armors, since they are not marked as "Beam Weapons" in the game's system. This was fixed in subsequent SRW instalments.
- In Super Robot Wars series, Phase Shift armor reduces non-beam and non-energy damage by 1500, while the VPS reduces non-beam and non-energy damage by 2000. Both of them consume 10 energy when used. Trans-phase armor reduces non-beam and non-energy by 1500 but only costs 5 energy per use.
- The fact that all the Gundams are gray prior to the activation of PS armor could be a reference to the fact that the RX-78 Gundam was originally supposed to be gray and white, not white, blue, and red.
- In Gundam Assault Survive, Phase Shift and Trans Phase Armor become available as purchasable MS accessories aside from being innate features of specific CE MS. The unit will display a second shield meter when it is equipped. Like the regular shield, it depletes when taking physical damage, but recharges over time. The charge rate depends on how much the unit is tuned.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Battle Destiny, Phase Shift and its latter variants act as a separate shield that protects against physical attacks. When the meter is empty, Phase Shift Down status will occur and the MS' colors fade, but the unit will remain fully operational. As per official settings, there is no color change during PS Down for MS with Trans Phase armor.
- In the case of the nuclear-powered MS however, the meter constantly regenerates and even if it goes empty, they will only temporarily be affected by physical attacks but PS Down will never occur as it will continue to recharge.
- In Gundam Battle Assault 3 Featuring Gundam SEED, Phase Shift armor works in a completely different way. Instead of only reducing melee and impact damage, it actually protects from energy based long range attacks.
- In SD Gundam Capsule Fighter Online, Phase Shift armor reduces physical projectile damage by 75%. However, physical melee damage isn't dealt with.
- In Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn, Phase Shift and its Trans-Phase variant acts as a Burst mode that prevents flinching from attacks. However, this Burst is only available to the Aegis, Buster, Blitz, Providence, Forbidden, Raider and Calamity, respectively.
|Cosmic Era technology|
Deuterion Beam Energy Transfer System | Lightwave Barrier | Mirage Colloid | Phase Shift armor | Positron Blaster Cannon | Positron Reflector
|Mobile Suit technology|
DRAGOON system | G Project | METEOR | Second Stage Series | Striker Packs | Voiture Lumiere
Cyclops System | GENESIS | Hyper-Deuterion Engine | Neutron Jammer | Neutron Jammer Canceller | Neutron Stampeder | Nibelung | Requiem
Carbon Human | Coordinators | Extended humans | Newtypes | SEED factor