66th Air Force Unit "Galm"Initially, two mercenary pilots who fly on behalf of Ustio. A third later transfers in from another mercenary unit after Pixy's defection to A World with No Boundaries.Tropes that apply to Galm Team as a whole:
- Ace Pilot: All three, but especially Cipher and Pixy.
- Adventure Duo: Cipher and Pixy specifically.
- Badass Crew
- Big Damn Heroes: To the Osean Air Defense Force in mission 10.
- Hellhound: The squadron is named for Garmr, the hound in Norse mythology which guards Nifleheim, the realm of the dead.
- The Legions of Hell: Probably not literally (Epileptic Trees aside), but everything about this unit is rife with symbolic motifs.
- Number of the Beast: They're the 6th Air Division, 66th Air Force Unit of the Ustian Air Force.
- Private Military Contractors
- Spell My Name with an "S": "Galm" is actually supposed to be "Garmr," of Norse mythology. See Hellhound above.
"Did you know there are three kinds of aces? Those who seek strength, those who live for pride, and those who can read the tide of battle. Those are the three. And him... he was a true ace."
—Larry Foulke ("Pixy"), on CipherA mercenary pilot hired by Ustio to defend their last remaining air base from a Belkan bomber attack. He goes on to become the single most successful and infamous ace of the entire Belkan War.
- Admiring the Abomination: He's the focus of this as a Mercenary Ace. Even those who loathe his methods have a grudging respect for his skills.
- Blood Knight: On the "Mercenary" path.
- Combat Pragmatist: On the "Soldier" path.
- Famed In-Story: The story specifically being the documentary that serves as the game's Framing Device.
- Even from the first mission, its made clear that Cipher is already a well-respected mercenary by the time of the war, though this opening dialogue changes depending on what type of ace he is at the game's start.
- Featureless Protagonist: Cipher is a dude. That's pretty much all we know about him.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He starts out as just another mercenary pilot, though Pixy notes on their first mission together that "he had potential." He ends up as, well, "The Demon Lord of the Round Table."
- Glory Seeker: On the "Knight" path.
- Good Is Not Nice/Good Is Not Soft: When talking about Cipher, the Indigo Squadron leader compares him to the old knights of Belka, and states this about them, assuming Cipher acts the same way. Whether he does or not is up to the player's interpretation.
- The Hero
- Heroic Mime
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: To the extent that he's never interviewed in person himself. Everything we know about him comes from other sources.
- Ideal Hero: The Knight Ace path characterizes him as this — someone who spares civilians, non-combatants, and those who drop out of the fight due to battle damage.
- Leave No Survivors: Can be played like this.
- Louis Cypher: Sort of. "Cipher" name-checks the second element, he's nicknamed "Demon Lord of the Round Table," and he leads a squadron that flies under the Number of the Beast and is named for a mythological Hellhound.
- Genius bonus also kicks in, when one realizes that the team's symbol is a hell hound, and one common appellation for mercenaries in real life is "Dogs of War"—which may also be a reference to the Wardog Squadron, one of Zero's countless allusions to Ace Combat 5.
- Nominal Hero/Unscrupulous Hero/Sociopathic Hero/Anti-Hero: The Mercenary Ace path characterizes him as one of these — someone who's fighting for the right cause, but the wrong reasons, whether it's the paycheck, for the fame or infamy, as revenge against Belka, Just Following Orders (no matter how abhorrent), or just the opportunity to cause mayhem. Ultimately, which one Cipher is, is completely up to player interpretation.
- One-Man Army: To the extent that it is noted in-game that he is literally the reason that the war turned around and is going so well.
- Player Character
- Pragmatic Hero: The Soldier Ace path characterizes him as this — his main goal is to defeat the enemy, and while he doesn't go out of his way to cause collateral damage like a Mercenary Ace, he's willing to Shoot the Dog if it gives him the advantage over his opponent.
- Professional Killer: Is a mercenary, comes with the territory. How much this is played up is up to you.
- Punch Clock Hero: Being a mercenary, it isn't hard to see Cipher as this. Once again, whether he is one is up to you.
- Red Baron: He's "The Demon Lord of the Round Table."
- Skilled, but Naïve: More than one enemy Ace characterizes Cipher as young and inexperienced, but Cipher's natural skill allows him to triumph over veteran pilots.
- Sociopathic Soldier: Playing Cipher as particularly bloodthirsty can make him really earn the appellation "Demon Lord," so much so that at one point the game calls him out on it by having him get jumped for hitting a neutral, defenseless target in a later mission."Damn mercenaries, haven't you already earned enough!"
- Terror Hero: By virtue of becoming The Dreaded. No matter how you play Cipher, this is ultimately what he will always become. Playing more like a mercenary just pushes him slightly closer to this. Alongside Ace Combat 5, this is probably the most triumphant example of this trope in the series.
- Weapon of Choice: Always depicted in promotional material in the F-15C Eagle.
Larry Foulke ("Pixy")
"While you're up here 'fighting for peace', tons of blood is being shed on the ground. Some 'peace' kid."
—Pixy, getting fed up with what he sees as PJ's self-righteous attitudeThe second member of Galm Team, a mercenary pilot like Cipher, and the best Ustian aerial ace until his arrival. He seems to have a profound respect for Cipher's skill, regardless of which Ace path he takes. He defects to A World with No Boundaries after losing faith in the Allies' cause and also serves as the game's final boss. Being defeated by Cipher causes him to reevaluate his beliefs, and in the game's present day he's still fighting other people's wars.
- The Atoner: Most likely the reason he's still out there fighting for seemingly lost causes.
- Broken Ace: While he was never exactly an idealist, the destruction of Hoffnung and Belka subsequently nuking its own cities to stop the Allied advance seem to utterly crush what little faith he had in the way the world works. He eventually gets better, but he has to go through another whole different ringer first.
- Char Clone: Interestingly, Pixy has some traits of this. Sure, he doesn't wear a Cool Mask or Cool Shades, but he's a blonde Ace Pilot (implied to have had a bit of Red Baron fame before becoming Cipher's wingman and seeing the "Demon Lord" overshadow him), who's a close ally to the main character (like Quattro in Zeta), and then becomes an enemy of his, trying to bring about The End of the World as We Know It (like Char in CCA). Not in a Colony Drop fashion, but close enough.
- Continuity Nod: Clues in the epilogue indicate that after the Belkan War, he ended up on the Usean continent, fighting for ISAF against Erusea in the same conflict as Mobius One.
- Crutch Character: Unlike Cipher, who starts the game (not New Game+) with just the weaksauce starter planes, Pixy begins outfitted with an F-15 (one of the more powerful planes in the game, if not top-tier) with all of its special munitions unlocked. In your last missions with him, however, Cipher is likely to have an even more advanced plane, while Pixy is still saddled with his F-15.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mostly in response to PJ's more saccharine moments.
- Deuteragonist: While Cipher's undoubtedly the main focus of the story, Pixy has a major role as his first wingman and his final opponent. A good chunk of what we know about Cipher comes from what he tells us, and Pixy's own actions help drive the plot, especially towards the end.
- Dirty Business: His attitude towards war in general and his job specifically, at least at first.
- Evil All Along: Dialogue between Wizard and Pixy early in the game indicates both are already members of A World With No Boundaries long before Pixy makes his defection apparent.
- Face–Heel Turn: His defection to A World with No Boundaries.
- Fallen Hero: He goes from one half of the greatest Ace Pilot team of the war to an utterly disillusioned extremist willing to plunge the world into chaos by the end of the story. He does eventually recover, though.
- Famed In-Story: Is already famous as "Solo-Wing Pixy" by the time the story starts, among both enemies and allies alike. As the story continues, however, his fame is overshadowed by Cipher's infamy.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: As applied to a Cool Plane's custom paint job. The right wing of his F-15 is painted red, in reference to the same incident that gave him his nickname. This is also carried over to the prototype Morgan he hijacks after joining A World with No Boundaries.
- Foil: To Cipher; he even states that they're "opposite sides of the same coin" at one point. Also a bit towards PJ, as the two of them tend towards opposite ends of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
- Heel Realization: After being shot down by Cipher, he comes to the conclusion that while "a world with no boundaries" might be an admirable goal in itself, bringing down the world's governments isn't going to change human nature overnight.
- Hero Killer: Unceremoniously guns down PJ with a direct hit to the canopy of his Falcon, courtesy of his Morgan's Tactical Laser System.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Essentially what he ends up as after the Belkan War. He knows from painful experience that humans are capable of being complete and utter bastards, but most people just want to get on with their lives, and humanity as a whole is something worth fighting for.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: He starts the war as Ustio's best fighter ace, but Cipher ends up outclassing him by at least an order of magnitude. Conclusively hammered home in the final battle, when Cipher shoots him down.
- Rival Turned Evil
- Red Baron: "Solo Wing" Pixy, in reference to an incident before the start of the game where he landed his F-15 on only "a wing and a prayer," so to speak.
- Walking the Earth: The path he chooses after the Belkan War. "I want to see for myself what borders really mean."
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: As a member of A World with No Boundaries.
- Weapon of Choice: Like Cipher, he is always seen using the F-15C Eagle, the only exception being as the Final Boss in the ADFX-02 Morgan.
- Wingman: For Cipher, at first.
Patrick James Beckett ("PJ")Crow Team's Number Three, he is an idealistic fighter pilot who believes himself to be fighting to end the war. After Pixy's disappearance following the seven nuclear attacks, he becomes Cipher's wingman until the end of the game, being shot down by Pixy just before the final battle.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: His last words before he gets shot down by Pixy? "DANG IT!" Notable for being the only time PJ loses his cool; he also sounds genuinely furious, not like he's toning down his language.
- Motor Mouth: Subverted on your first mission together. He gets a bit chatty at the start, rambling about how he likes to play polo and such, but then catches himself with a sheepish "maybe we should get going now" and focuses on the mission.
- Retirony: After helping avert the launch of V2 at Avalon Dam and moments before Pixy sends him to the great junkyard in the sky, PJ says he has a girlfriend back at the base he plans to propose to, ecstatically mentioning that he even bought her flowers.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: At the hands of Pixy, right before the final mission.
- Taking the Bullet: It looks like PJ does this for the player, but wasn't intentional. He was actually just trying to shift into the proper wingman position after hearing that another enemy is coming and by pure chance took the blast aimed at that very moment at you.
- Walking the Earth: It is established in the fluff that he had taken off in a motorcycle across the Osean Continent before the war, similar to Che Guevara.
- Weapon of Choice: F-16C Fighting Falcon.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Much to the annoyance of Pixy.
Allied ForcesThe good guys (supposedly, it can be hard to tell), made up of the Osean Federation, Yuktobania, Sapin, Ustio, and several other minor nations. Were attacked by Belka in a war of aggression and all took the time to gang up on the rogue nation and make them pay for centuries of bad blood. Were shocked by Belka nuking itself, turning Osea in particular into the spineless nation it was during Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- The Alliance: Duh.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: After the initial invasion is turned around, the Allies' counteroffensive seemingly trivially steamrolls its way towards the Belkan capital of Dinsmark thanks to bringing the military might of both of the superpowers of Strangereal and several minor powers to bear against the lone aggressor, Belka. Belka loses all of its conquests and South Belka in a scant three months from the beginning of hostilities on March 25th, 1995 to the cessation thereof on June 20th of the same year. It would likely have gone longer, but worse for Belka, had Belka not used nuclear weapons on their own soil to close off North Belka and reduce the amount of concessions the Allies could extract from them.
- He Who Fights Monsters: The Allies quickly resort to war crimes, such as the indiscriminate firebombing of Hoffnung to try to bring the war to as swift of a conclusion as possible.
- Multinational Team: An Alliance of multiple nations, united for the sole purpose of destroying Belka in retribution for their sttempts to conquer their neighbors.
- Take That: Their actions can be seen as a possible one to the some of the actions of the real world Allied Forces during World War II.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Get one from the main characters, except Cipher, for their actions, especially the firebombing of Hoffnung.
4th Air Force Unit "Crow"The other members of the Crow Squadron
- Weapon of Choice: F-16C Fighting Falcon
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Neither member of Crow Team had been seen again after Mission 12. Their fate has been left ambiguous as of yet.
AWACS Eagle EyeThe Galm Team's AWACS.
Belkan Air ForceThe proud Belkan Air Force, based on the German Luftwaffe from World War II (and commonly called the Belkan Luftwaffe as a result). Characterized as honorable, consummate professionals, who just so happen to be fighting for the wrong side.
- Consummate Professional: The Belkan air force as a whole is seen as being this, similar to how the German Luftwaffe in World War II was viewed. This contributes to the Belkan Air Force's disdain towards mercenaries.
- Fantastic Racism: Not by the pilots themselves but by their high command. It is heavily implied that the ultranationalistic government of Belka kept foreign-born Belkan aces under-promoted.
- Former Regime Personnel: Some of the lesser Belkan aces become this after the war, fleeing to other countries for military work, bringing advanced Belkan tech with them. The most famous of these is Lorenz Riedel, a former member of Gault team, helping the Estovakians produce the P-1112 Aigaion.
- Glory Days: Detlef Fleicher (Rot One) especially, but they all to some extent regard their military careers like this, some just hide it better than others. It's shown that Belka as a whole was pining for this, starting the war in the first place to revive these.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: Generally characterized this way (with the exception of Schwarze Team), fighting for their nation out of pride for its heritage and past greatness, even if the war is one of aggression. None of them speak about the nuclear attacks, possibly out of shame, but up till that point, they had no problems fighting for their country.
- Officer and a Gentleman: All of the Belkan aces (except Dominic Zubov) carry themselves like this, but Rot One and Indigo One especially. Truth in television, as the German air force in both world wars held themselves to a pretty high standard, and during WWI, even upheld chivalry.
- Retired Badass: All of the Belkan Air Force members post-war, even those with great pre-war military careers, with the implication that the Belkan Air Force was disbanded, similar to what happened to post-both World Wars Germany.
52nd Tactical Fighter Squadron "Rot"One of the most famous squadrons within the Belkan Air Force. They commonly fought with a high sense of pride for their homeland. Their flight leader, Detlef Fleisher, nicknamed the "Red Swallow" is commonly seen as the poster boy for the Belkan Air Force.
- Arrogant Fighter Pilot
- Pride Before a Fall: His squadron is the first you face if you choose the mercenary path, in the third mission.
- Weapon of Choice: Rot Squadron flies Eurofighter Typhoons.
8th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Grun"
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Grun One could apparently tell a laundry list of things including your fuel state and remaining ammo just by looking at your aircraft. Too bad it doesn't do him good for too long.
- Weapon of Choice: Grun uses the F/A-18C Hornet.
51st Tactical Fighter Squadron "Indigo"
- Good Is Not Nice/ Good Is Not Soft: Characterizes the old Belkan knighthood as this, and believes that Cipher is like this as well. he also characterizes himself as this.
- Honor Before Reason: Subverted, as Indigo One notes that being a modern knight means not being overly generous to one's enemies, as that could lead to death.
- Knight in Shining Armor: As members of the Belkan nobility, they see themselves as modern-day knights of the skies.
- Old-School Chivalry: Among all the Belkan pilots, they hold themselves to knightly chivalry the most.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Indigo One realizes that Cipher can kick ass and knew the situation would be bad for him, but believed that his experience would give him an edge. He was wrong.
- Weapon of Choice: Indigo uses the JAS-39 Gripen C.
23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron "Gelb"
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Of all of the enemy aces, he is the most visibly traumatized by the events that took place on the day he was shot down.
- Weapon of Choice: Su-37 Terminator.
- Worf Had the Flu: Gelb 2 mentions in his interview that his squad would often be sent from one mission to another without even any basic maintenance on their planes. Combined with being one of only two ace squadrons that don't outnumber you, this is why the player can easily take them out despite them flying Su-37 Terminators, a late-game plane for the player, just a third of the way into the game. note
6th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Schwarze"
- A Fate Worse Than Death: Dominic seems to indicate that, for soldiers like him and Galm Team, surviving and having to live in the world after the war is the worst fate possible for them, and one they fully deserve.
- Covert Group: Subverted. Schwarze is well known to friend and foe as "those mercenaries working for Belka", but killing traitors and cowards was only their public mission. They had "other" duties as well that they carried out in secret of unknown parameters, but it's implied they were something like this.
- Dangerous Deserter: Inverted: they are Dangerous Deserter Killers. That said, it's subverted after the war, in that they desert and flee the country, becoming war criminals.
- Hide the Evidence: What Belka did regarding information about the missions Schwarze carried out, once Belka's loss became certain.
- The Laws and Customs of War: Pretty much have license to ignore these. For example, they have the unconditional authority to attack on sight and at will, which is a war crime.
- Legion of Lost Souls: Dominic Zubov pretty much founded Schwarze to be the Belkan Air Force's version of this.
- Not So Different: Dominic Zubov sees this as the case between him, Cipher, and Pixy.
- The Political Officer: Is an air force take on this. Their job is (usually) to execute deserters, defectors, and cowards and maintain air force discipline.
- Plausible Deniability: Seemed to have been employed so Belka could claim this about their actions.
- Professional Killer: They are the only mercenaries flying for Belka, and are essentially seen as this.
- Red Baron: Schwarze Squadron was called "The Vultures" for being glorified hitmen for Belka and "Escapee Killers" for their official role of enforcing battlefield discipline.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Averted. Despite surviving a battle that drove every other survivor insane because of its suicidal and genocidal nature, Dominic Zubov not only retained his sanity, but later went to work for Belka as a mercenary. Even today, he seems perfectly sane, if a little dark.
- Shrouded in Myth: Absolutely nothing is known about much of the squadron, including its members, because of the destruction of public records regarding them.
- Sociopathic Soldier: All of them, but especially Dominic Zubov, who, in the fluff, survived a war that devolved into genocide and suicidal battles.
- Token Evil Teammate: The most antagonistic Belkan pilots in the game, and some of them aren't even Belkan.
- Weapon of Choice: They fly MiG-31s.
4th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Schnee"
- The Last DJ: Schnee One is an enemy version of this. He was known behind the scenes as "The Eternal 2nd Lieutenant."
- Macross Missile Massacre: Comes with their aircraft.
- Weapon of Choice: Schnee 1 through 4 use F-14D's and typically use Sniper tactics with Schnee Five (who uses the EA-6B) to blind you so you would not see the missiles coming.
- Worthy Opponent: Sees Cipher as this, so much so he couldn't wait to get back in the air and spent days walking to the nearest airfield instead of waiting for any search and rescue team to find him. He still never got to fight him again.
126th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Silber"
- A Father to His Men: Silber One to his squad.
- Call to Agriculture: Dietrich Kellerman with his farm after the war.
- Mandatory Unretirement: Team leader Dietrich Kellerman's career actually ended in the 80s and he was retired before the war. He was brought out of retirement to bolster troop morale.
- Old Master: A rare ace pilot example of this trope. Kellerman was still able to put up a good fight despite his age being above fighter pilot norm. He was also founder of the Kellerman Institution, which trained some of Belka's best pilots.
- Old Soldier: Was already this by the time the Belkan War started. The war's conclusion seems to have put him out to pasture for good.
- Passing the Torch: Kellerman sees Cipher's appearance, and his shooting down him and his entire squad, as his cue to do this.
- Weak, but Skilled: Silber One, who uses an F-4E Phantom II and is much more skilled than everyone else in his squadron, despite them using F-16C's.
- Skilled, but Naïve: In the same vein, the pilots flying under Silber One are all rookies, but they all show great skill in combat.
A World with No BoundariesA terrorist organization, formed from the members of the militaries of all the involved belligerent nations. They are striving for a world without borders, believing they cause conflict.
- Multinational Team: Has members from Belka, Osea, Ustio, Sapin, Yuktobania, and possibly other nations as well. All are unified behind a common goal.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: Seem to see this attitude as the root of all war.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: If Pixy is any indication, they are made up of a lot of these. In the end, they are just soldiers who have grown disillusioned with war.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: They desired a world without war...but were willing to kill billions to achieve it.
11th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Espada"
- Battle Couple
- Dashing Hispanic: Both of 'em.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: No matter what ace path you fly or whether on not you let Espada One escape, he is always destined to die and leave his lover alone.
- Weak, but Skilled: Espada One flies a freaking J35J Draken, one of the starting planes. You probably have something much better, but he can often still kick your ass.
- Weapon of Choice: Espada One's J-35J Draken and Espada Two's Rafale M.
32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron "Wizard" and "Sorcerer"
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Palmer, though he is only a commander under both Anton and Bristow.
- Black Dude Dies First: Averted. Palmer is one of the few survivors of not only his team but of A World With No Boundaries as a whole.
- The Dragon: Both fighter captains Palmer and Bristow can be seen as this to Anton Kupchenko, acting as the face of their organization.
- "Get out of Jail Free" Card: In an interesting turn of events Anthony Palmer gets this, but not Marcus Bristow, who ends up in prison. Palmer somehow avoids jail time and becomes an insurance salesman.
- Scary Black Man: Anthony Palmer. Subverted, in that it's Palmer who ends up scared.
- Tempting Fate/Irony: "Don't even think about heading back." Indeed, Palmer.
- Weapon of Choice: When you fight alongside then in Mission 10, they use the F/A-18C. When you fight them as opponents however, Sorcerer uses the F-15 S/MTD Eagle, while Wizard has half his team use F-16XL's while the other half, include the flight leader Bristow, uses the YF-23A Stealth Fighter.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Bristow sees himself as this, and doesn't seem to have any regrets about his actions.
- What Is This Feeling?: Palmer almost says this word for word when fighting Cipher, as the young mercenary engenders a strange reaction from him. He soon realizes exactly what it is he is feeling: fear.
5th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Gault"
- Anti-Villain: Ultimately, Anton's heart is in the right place, but his methods of getting his results are abhorrent.
- Clock King: Anton Kupchenko runs his squadron like one, as the Enemy Chatter during the fight with Gault demonstrates that his pilots have been trained to fly in specific patterns to exploit enemy weaknesses.
- Danger Deadpan: Halfway between this and the squadron version of Major Injury Underreaction. Destroy enough of his squadron and he'll be merely impressed, saying this:"He's flying in unpredictable patterns."
- Mad Scientist: Well, almost. He was instrumental in starting Project Pendragon, the Belkan weapons research initiative that churned out Excalibur, Hresvelgr, and the V2. Further, his callsign is "Dr."
- The Man Behind the Man: Founded and was the leader of A World with No Boundaries.
- Posthumous Character: Not in the game per se, but in the Framing Device of the documentary about Cipher, Kupchenko is the one ace who isn't interviewed because he died at B7R. The "interview" section for him consists of camera shots of his tombstone's epitaph.
- Weapon of Choice: He and his squad uses Su-47's.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist:"The table is surrounded by politicians who have never placed a foot on the battlefield. It's a disgusting squabble over who gets the largest piece of the pie, and that's why it needs to end. It is for that duty we raised the King. That's why we're fighting."
- The Narrator
- Workaholic: Actually inverted: he becomes so obsessed with researching the Belkan War, he completely forgets about his job, meaning making the documentary wasn't his job at all, emphasizing his obsession.