A list of characters who first appeared in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown.
The protagonist of the game who starts as a pilot of Mage Squadron. His initial callsign is Mage 2, and when he is transferred to the 444th Fighter Squadron "Spare" following a rescue mission gone wrong, he is given the callsign Spare 15.
- Accidental Murder: During Operation Lighthouse Keeper, Trigger aims at a drone harassing the rescue plane he's protecting, only for the drone to dodge the missile, which hits and destroys the rescue plane instead. Harling does not make it out alive from that explosion, and the operation ends in total failure, with Trigger being arrested under suspicions of murder and subsequently transferred to the penal squadron, the 444th. An Erusean defector later reveals that an Erusean drone faking an Osean IFF signal shot down Harling, something that Trigger had no control over and subverting the trope because the murderer is a drone disguised as an ally and not Trigger.
- Ace Pilot: As with any protagonist in an Ace Combat game, he becomes bar none the most skilled pilot in the story. Throughout your adventures, you get to pull insane feats like dogfighting in a thunderstorm (even getting your aircraft hit by lightning once and still going on) and performing the series-long tradition of a tunnel flight with the added bonus of doing a vertical tunnel flight that's encumbered by gravity and wind!
- Appropriated Appelation: While he doesn't speak, so we can't know if he literally calls himself "the Three Strikes", when he transfers out of the 444th, he appropriates the three strikes he had been given as a prisoner as a claw tearing three jagged scratches.
- The Dreaded: His mere presence is enough to demoralize Erusean forces. It's even hinted at that Erusean forces in one mission are suffering from morale problems due solely to the fact that their command mentioned Three Strikes in their briefing. During Operation Daredevil, a coalition-allied Erusean exclaims that being allied with the Three Strikes is the best news he's ever heard in a long time.Erusean Fighter (Ally): Against Three Strikes? Uh-uh, never again.
- Featureless Protagonist: The playable protagonist is only known by his callsign, "Trigger" and the nickname "the Three Strikes" (derived from the three "Sin Lines" or "scratches" placed on his plane's tail after he is assigned to the 444th Fighter Squadron "Spare", denoting the severity of his crime that he was falsely convicted of and standing out compared to the other pilots, who are one or two scratch offenders), with no other distinguishing trait, hearkening back to the more traditional games in the series.
- Trigger can actually be seen at one point, during the briefing for Mission 10; as the briefing closes, a number of pilots can be seen in the reflection of the screen. As they get up to leave, McKinsey addresses Trigger, and one of the pilots can be seen turning around, but, much like the famed photo of Blaze in Ace Combat 5, a popup window on the computer takes that exact moment to show up on the screen and obscure the reflection before Trigger's face can be fully seen.
- The Hero: Its his actions that ultimately stop the war. The Osean forces even see him as this and eventually the Erusean forces do as well.
- Hope Bringer: As with previous protagonists, Trigger becomes this for the Oseans and the Conservative Eruseans as well. Best exemplified in the final mission when Rosa Cossette DElise calls him a beacon of light in a world of darkness.Cossette: Can you hear me? Were all waiting. A world of darkness needs a light to shine. Were all waiting, for that beacon of light!
- Hot-Blooded: Downplayed due to Trigger being a Silent Protagonist, but Avril describes him as a "hot dog" due to his aggressive piloting nearly burning out the engines of his jet, and after the LRSSG completes all of their sealed orders and are unable to receive further orders, but come up with an objective to bring the war closer to a close, everyone else expresses that they wish they could go home, but Húxiān observes that Trigger is still raring to go for the mission they've come up with for themselves. The game will even try to get the player to act like this; in the first mission, priority targets will appear on the radar with little prompt, but shortly after the squadron leader will chide Trigger for flying off after them, indicating you are supposed to immediately turn towards them upon their appearance. Trigger's gungho-ness is a somewhat unique quality compared to other player characters such as Mobius 1 (the feared legendary ISAF pilot), Blaze (the mysterious leader of Razgriz squadron, pillar of the Osean Air Force) and Cipher (the Belkan war's Demon Lord of the Round Table, known as either either an honorable knight, a pragmatic soldier or a ruthless mercenary), who have no such trait aside for their ungodly skill as pilots.
- Miscarriage of Justice: He gets falsely convicted of murdering former President Harling, despite the evidence being circumstantial at best, more or less boiling down to "The missile came from a friendly plane and Trigger was the closest."
- One-Man Army: As is usually the case with the player character in an Ace Combat game, he takes out countless enemies. Even his allies acknowledge the Osean war effort relies heavily on him.
- Phrase Catcher: After proving to be instrumental in completing missions after missions and getting his allies back alive, his wingmen invent the phrase "Stick with Trigger and you'll make it", believing that if they stick close with Trigger, they'll make it out of any situation alive, becoming their Survival Mantra in the process.
- Red Baron: Becomes known as the three strikes/scratches, due to the distinct markings on his plane. Its to the point even Mihalys granddaughter is able to identity him solely by the three strikes on his aircraft.
- The Rival: What Mihaly comes to view him as. It gets to the point he seems to enjoy their encounters.
- Silent Protagonist: In true Ace Combat fashion, he never says a word. However reactions from characters, seem to imply he can be reckless. Even Avril describes him as a hot dog after noticing he nearly burns out his plane's engine plenty of times.
- Worthy Opponent: Mihaly seems to regard him as such, even telling his granddaughters about him.
Osean Air Defense Force
The 444th Squadron / Spare Squadron
Avril "Scrap Queen" Mead
- Voiced by: Abby Trott [EN], Satsuki Yukino [JP]
Spare Squadron's tomboyish mechanic and one of the story's narrative leads. Originally attempting to take flight in a F-104C she took years to repair, she finds herself arrested by the Osean military for unauthorized wartime flight and is subsequently thrown in the 444th, where her mechanic skills earn her the nickname "Scrap Queen".
- Ace Custom: She can't fly any custom planes due to her punishment and her injury, but Avril can refurbish mothballed planes to the point that they fly as good as (if not outright better than) brand new planes. After Operation Two-Pairs, she gives Trigger's plane an overhaul, which grants you the "Queen's Custom", an upgrade that significantly improves your plane's overall performance at a low upgrade cap cost.
- Action Survivor: Despite not being a trained soldier, she manages to survive when everything goes to hell and hold her own. She even manages to save the Princess in a combat zone, make her way to the lighthouse, and help Trigger end the war. Keep in mind she does all this with a partial limp from a leg injury, caused from being shot down in a plane during the opening.
- Boyish Short Hair: Tops off her tomboyish look to go with her personality.
- Character Tics: She has a habit of rubbing her right thumb over her index finger when contemplative.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: To Trigger. Their interactions go from her taking an interest in him, but keeping her distance. By the end of the game, she's giggling and joking with him, even asking to know what sky looks like.note Its fairly obvious that she has feelings for Trigger, though it isn't clear if these are truly romantic feelings in nature.
- Deuteragonist: Plays this role to Trigger's protagonist. She serves as the main narrator for the Osean side. It is also her actions that have the most impact to both the plot and Trigger. The game also both opens and closes with her.
- Handicapped Badass: Nothing too severe or permanent, but during the beginning of the game she sustains a leg injury from the crash of her F-104 that leaves her in a leg brace with a pronounced limp for the rest of the game. She doesn't allow this to slow her down or cool her attitude, however.
- Lady Swears-a-Lot: She's one of the most foul-mouthed characters in the game, repeatedly using terms like "shithole" and "dumbass" when she narrates; the latter even becomes an appellation for Trigger given she views him as a reckless fool. She definitely took after her late grandfather and his friends, who taught her everything she knew about being a mechanic—and a few dirty jokes.
- Raised by Dudes: She was raised by her grandfather and his pilot buddies. She learned everything about her mechanical skills from them — along with a few dirty jokes.
- Shorttank: Her design down pat, with a tomboyish haircut, somewhat masculine interests and a tank top that also shows part of her midriff.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Tomboy to Princess Cossette's Girly Girl after Avril saves Cossette from a combat zone. Avril has always admired Cossette, with her often listening to Cossette's speeches during her time as a convict, and the two become fast friends once they travel together.
- Tsundere: This tends to be her usual demeanor. Mostly seen with Trigger, who she affectionately calls Dumbass...even singling him out in a message addressed to all pilots.
- Wrench Wench: She rebuilt an F-104C from a boneyard and is known as the Scrap Queen in Spare Squadron's base. The named Spare pilots wonder how Avril manages to turn any mothballed aircraft into war-winning machines, even equating her talent to magic.
- You Remind Me of X: She first takes an interest in Trigger after Trigger holds off an enemy ace while covering the rest of the formation's retreat. Her father died doing something similar, causing Avril to grow up resenting him for it, and hearing Trigger did the same causes her to call him "Dumbass", but she resolves to keep an eye on him.
- Voiced by: Greg Chun [EN], Shogo Nakamura [JP]
A pilot in Spare Squadron convicted of fraud, callsign Spare 2. Arrogant and self-assured, he has a habit of making bodycount competitions with his fellow pilots, as well as inflating the numbers to make himself look good.
- Accidental Murder: Due to either incompetence or malice on Bandog's part (all voiced members of Spare lean towards the malice explanation), Count is tricked into shooting down Full Band after Bandog flagged Full Band as a hostile in Count's Heads-Up Display when Spare is regrouping from Erusea's spoofing of Osean IFF codes.
- Always Someone Better: Initially views Trigger's achievements with jealousy, he eventually comes to terms with the fact that he can never be Trigger's equal. Best shown in the ending where after he landed his plane underneath the space elevator, he tells Húxiān that it's his fate to watch Trigger from down below.
- Bash Brothers: Despite not starting out on the best terms, as time goes on he and Trigger ultimately become this.
- Body-Count Competition: Something he constantly tries to engage the other prisoners in the 444th Squadron in while in the air, and the one of the sources of his callsign. AWACS Bandog calls him out for faking his number of kills, having kept track of Count's score and Trigger's score so far as numbers of downed drones are concerned. He slowly grows out of this once he joins the LRSSG.
- Break the Haughty: He starts off pretty arrogant. He proclaims himself "squadron leader" of Spare Squadron as well as barking out orders to others, and insults Trigger's achievements by claiming that it was just pure luck. Several missions later, Trigger proves himself to be so much better than he could ever be, and Count has a very hard time accepting this. AWACS Bandog, himself an unlikable Jerkass, tells Count to stop holding Trigger in contempt and to start thinking about how to improve himself. After the two join official squadrons in the LRSSG, things come to a head during the Battle of Farbanti, where Wiseman—Count's new squadron leader—is shot down by Mihaly. Count suddenly finds himself in command of the squadron and is ordered to help Trigger engage Mister X, only to find that he can't do it. He wrongly assumed he knows better than others, but in the end, he can't actually do anything without relying on others who are actually better than him for help. After this event, his arrogance tones down significantly, and he finally comes to terms with the fact that Trigger is really better than him, and that he can't simply leave the battle to the others all the time.
- Brick Joke: Count's regular radio which he kept from his Spare Squadron days, while useful during the chaos of Mission 16, is used to hilarious effect during Operation Daredevil. It's how he can overhear Avril telling Cossette to smash the devices to the Arsenal Bird's remote energy source, using that to appear to talk the massive aircraft's microwave shields down. After Húxiān asks him what kind of magic he did to bring the shields down, Count admits that it was a scam on his part, not magic.
- Character Development: He starts off as a selfish Jerkass (he's the thief Avril mentions in her narration), who cares mostly about himself, tries to take command of Spare the instant he's able to, and even then tends to abandon his squad when things get hot. However, as the game goes on, he starts to care about his squadmates, and becomes a more reliable pilot and wingman. By the end, he is one of Trigger's closest allies.
- Initially, he's less concerned about the allies that Spare Squadron is ordered to assist than he is about surviving (and taking credit). By the time Strider Squadron moves to Tyler Island, however, he's more concerned about helping the Osean Forces survive the comms handicap.Húxiān: Don't they know they're on the same side?!
Count: (aghast) We'll be firing at each other!
- Initially, he's less concerned about the allies that Spare Squadron is ordered to assist than he is about surviving (and taking credit). By the time Strider Squadron moves to Tyler Island, however, he's more concerned about helping the Osean Forces survive the comms handicap.
- Crazy-Prepared: Very downplayed example in that he keeps a regular radio taped into his cockpit, "ever since [Spare] squadron." This lets him hear just how badly the communications blackout is affecting the Eruseans, on top of the Osean Forces deployed there.
- Déjà Vu: During the battle to take Tyler Island, Fencer tells Tailor to stay glued to his ass, despite the latter's protests. Count remarks that he's heard that before, when Wiseman was saying the exact same thing to him during his first mission as Cyclops 2.
- Everyone Has Standards: He's an arrogant convict and a fraud who won't hesitate to run at the first sight of danger (initially), but even he is disgusted by his accidental murder of Full Band, which he believes to be the result of Bandog intentionally tagging his IFF as an enemy on his radar.
- Green-Eyed Monster: He shows signs of jealousy as Triggers reputation grows. He even starts going out of his way to try to stand out, to the point Húxiān gets pissed off and calls him a Glory Hound during a mission defending Stonehenge from the Arsenal Bird's drones. He ultimately grows out of this after Wiseman's death, even saying in the ending that "it's [his] fate to watch from down below."Húxiān: You damn glory hound! Do your friggin' job!
- The Lancer: After properly joining Strider Squadron and getting over his rivalry with Trigger, he becomes this to him instead, with him ready to follow Trigger everywhere and does his best to help him in battle.
- While Trigger is the first of the pilots in favor of the Tyler Island operation, the operation itself was borne of Count's own suggestion of the LRSSG needing to "watch our own backs", and of him telling Long Caster of his previous squadron's mission to take it previously.
- Meaningful Name: He was jailed for fraud, after pretending to be the descendant from a noble family. He also has a tendency of inflating his combat kills, giving his callsign a humorous double meaning.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: While perhaps not intentional, Count bears more than a striking resemblance to Chad Kroeger from Nickelback.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: His usual strategy in Spare Squadron, especially if the trouble comes from him searching for enemies to kill (and if said enemies turn out to be swarms of killer drones). The Battle for Farbanti, and his sudden promotion to leading Cyclops Squadron following Wiseman's death, marks the first time that abandoning the battle is not an option for moving forward. From then on, he sticks with Trigger, just as Tabloid recommended all those missions ago.
- Taking the Bullet: During the final mission, he and Trigger dive into the Lighthouse's tunnel network to pursue the remaining ADF-11, but the drone ambushes them midway through. Count manages to warn you and tanks the flurry, but his craft ends up damaged and unable to keep flying any longer. After directing Trigger to escape via the space elevator shaft, he settles for a belly-landing, which is successful.
- Took a Level in Badass: He's a capable pilot, but he often flees from risky dogfights, leaving his wingmen to deal with the mess. Then he's suddenly in command of a squadron, during an intense dogfight that he cannot run away from. This is the wakeup call for Count to start improving himself in the last act of the game. While not on Trigger's level, Count is at least able to keep up with him. He used to flee from Mihaly every time he showed up; but in the final mission, he actually holds his own against two AI drones programmed with Mihaly's—and later even Trigger's—skillset, and is the only pilot ballsy enough to follow Trigger into a dangerous tunnel mission to destroy the last drone and even survives to tell the tale.
- Troll: Strings along Húxiān by pretending to bring down Arsenal Bird's shield with strongly spoken words. He could actually hear Cossette smashing the devices required to transfer power to the Arsenal Bird, thanks to his commercial radio receiver, so he probably messed with Húxiān for the fun of it.
- True Companions: What he and Trigger come to be, by surviving the war together. Hes even willing to follow Trigger into a tunnel, despite it nearly being a high risk for everyone else.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: He develops this rapport with Húxiān. The two constantly bicker, but they're willing to stick their necks out for each other. Both pilots having been thieves in their respective pasts probably helps with that.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Wiseman tries to drill this into him, and after Wiseman's death and Count's resultant freak-out, so does Long Caster and the rest of Cyclops Squadron. Despite his everything crashing down around him, he still acquits himself with merit until the end of the mission.
- You Are in Command Now: After Wiseman is killed by Mihaly, Count suddenly finds himself in command of the Cyclops Squadron and is told to engage Mister X, only to find out the hard way that he is not up to the task. His only order is for Cyclops to form an element in order to help Trigger against Mister X. After the mission, he joins Trigger as Strider 2, which means he put Trigger in command.
- Voiced by: Shinji Kawada [JP]
A pilot in Spare Squadron, callsign Spare 11. A self-admitted anarchist, Tabloid is nonetheless fairly analytical and easily the most friendly wingmate Trigger meets in the 444th.
- Badass Bookworm: He got his name for his fondness of books. He is also a very capable pilot, being the only fighter that tagged along with Trigger during the confrontation with Mihaly in Yinshi Valley. He lampshades to Avril how he didn't expect to throw himself into the fray like that, and is still shaken by it, despite making out of it in one piece.
- Bomb Throwing Anarchist: Subverted - he's explicitly identified as an anarchist, but he isn't in Spare for some senseless act of destruction or political assassination, but rather for protesting the war. He hasn't done anything worse than throw a rock outside of the context of military actions and never expresses a desire for general chaos, and is probably one of the nicest members of Spare.
- Death by Irony: He's the one who came up with the phrase "Stick with Trigger and you'll make it", yet once he's separated from Trigger around halfway through the game, he ends up getting killed on the ground, near the ending, never rejoining him in the air, while Count—who manages to follow Trigger's path through the entire war, thus 'sticking' with him to the end—survives.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Almost literally. He's killed by a chunk of falling debris while attempting to rescue a girl during the Lighthouse battle. It comes pretty much out of nowhere and some players might have missed it entirely in the hectic battle against the Arsenal Bird until Avril sadly mentions his demise later. He's also notable for being the only wingman in the entire series who died on the ground and not in his plane, in an offscreen death to boot.
- Felony Misdemeanor: He got thrown into the 444th for calling out Osea on perpetuating the war and for throwing a rock. Quite disproportionate when put next to other convicts like Count, an actual conman, and Trigger, who's been falsely convicted of assassinating a former president.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He dies rescuing a little girl from falling debris during the battle at the Lighthouse.
- Hidden Depths: Despite his outward appearance being described as unimpressive, there is definitely more than meets the eye. He was actually arrested for making political statements and proves a very capable pilot. Even more, both his parents are revealed to be Belkan, and he defies the political stereotype of Belkan people as scheming mad scientists bent on revenge against Osea.
- Never Say "Die": Avril tries to avoid mentioning his death to Cossette, but it's all too obvious that Tabloid isn't coming back.
- Voiced by: Steve Blum [EN], Akimatsu Takase [JP]
A pilot in Spare Squadron, callsign Spare 7. Tends to make bets on the outcome of the squadron's missions.
- The Gambler: The source of his callsign. He's always trying to get other members of Spare to make wagers on how things might play out. Notably, he bet that Trigger would kick ass and get down alive after Trigger's first penal sortie. Bandog lost a lot of money to High Roller by betting on the event of Trigger crashing.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Aside from Tabloid, High Roller is one of the most sympathetic wingmen in Spare Squadron thanks to his chummy attitude and lighthearted tendency for bets. Unfortunately, he's also the first named casualty in the squadron, which serves as a reminder that the 444th is ultimately expendable. Though they are initially shocked by his death (with Champ even trying to convince Bandog into retreating, if it means not losing the entire squadron), the squadron still manages to complete the mission, and Full Band tries to crack a dry joke at High Roller's expense, with little reaction.AWACS Bandog: Don't piss your pants over one aircraft being down.
- Skewed Priorities: After his plane is hit by the drones, High Roller's immediate concern is that he's still on the betting table (though that might have just been a euphemism for him saying he was still in the fight). His Famous Last Words are still about betting; telling everyone that he bets on himself that he's going to make it out alive just before a missile shot him down.
- Voiced by: Joe Zieja [EN], Tomoya Yano [JP]
A pilot in Spare Squadron, callsign Spare 6. He firmly believes in the power of information, and finds ways to gain classified knowledge way above his clearance level.
- He Knows Too Much: Assuming you believe Bandog purposely had him killed, this is a plausible motive behind Bandog's doing so rather than outright malice. After all, a convict with any actual knowledge of top-secret Osean intelligence is not something that is looked upon kindly, and Full Band implicated Bandog (and by extension anyone on the radio that day) by openly speaking about it. With this in mind, it's not exactly surprising that Bandog would silence him in lieu of the entire squadron getting in deep with Osean command, especially after the military was just starting to trust them with actual missions and with a commander who would throw them all under the bus, Bandog included, if it meant saving his own ass.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: It's Full Band's and Tabloid's idea to form up Spare Squadron very tight so AWACS Bandog can recalibrate the IFF after the Eruseans hacked it, but Full Band is suspiciously flagged as an enemy after the rest of the hostile F/A-18Fs are destroyed, which tricks Count into shooting him down. Depending on who you believe, it was either a genuine mistake on Bandog's part, or Bandog used the chance to get back at Full Band for their earlier disagreement by also flagging him as hostile in Count's HeadsUpDisplay after the battle with the drones that were spoofing the Osean IFF so Count would shoot him down.
- Lack of Empathy: His comments and actions during the mission indicate he doesn't care much for anyone other than himself, often joking about things such as Trigger's supposed murder of Harling and making fun of pilots who are killed. The most selfless thing he does is getting the squadron to form up on Trigger so Bandog can re-tag their IFF, but even them one can argue that he did that to save his own ass. Ironically enough, it doesn't, since Bandog accidentally (or not) tags him as an enemy and gets him killed anyways.
- Playful Hacker: He has a habit of running his mouth about breaking into any of the base's computers whenever he can arrange access to them, either directly or by bribing someone else to do it on his behalf (how he manages to get the money for a bribe is rather sketchy), all so he can gain access to information that would be classified above his clearance level (which, being a prisoner, is understandably low). He claims this is mainly so he can be "better informed", but he's not really in much of a position to actually do anything with that information. It's heavily implied AWACS Bandog tagged him as an enemy because He Knows Too Much.
- Speak Ill of the Dead: In the first mission in the Spares, he says that Trigger shot two missiles 'right between old Harling's eyes' with no empathy whatsoever. In the next mission, he makes fun of High Roller's death by joking about his betting. And when Champ gets shot down by Mihaly, he claims in a later mission that Champ went down crying like a baby and calls him a coward. One could say that him getting shot down in a Friendly Fire incident is a bit of a Karmic Death for a guy who never really cared about others.
- Too Dumb to Live: Bragging about your hacking activities and implicitly blackmailing your own AWACS is sure to get you into hot waters real fast. While it's not outright stated, there's a lot of evidence pointing towards Bandog making sure that Full Band would die in an "accident" for getting his hands on classified Osean intelligence.
- Voiced by: Masafumi Kimura [JP]
A pilot in Spare Squadron, callsign Spare 8. Hotheaded and eager to enter the fray despite his superiors' protests.
- Dodge by Braking: Champ pulls Pugachev's Cobra on Mihaly only to get shot in the face when Mihaly pulls the more difficult and advanced Kulbitnote .
- Establishing Character Moment: Champ demands to take off first when the 444th are ordered to get airborn. When he's denied, he forces the takeoff.
- Hot-Blooded: He seems to be spoiling for action every time he is in the air.
- Meaningful Name: He's always champing at the bit for a fight.
- Pride: Hes really self-centered and doesn't think too much of the other pilots. He cuts ahead of Tabloid's Mirage 2000-5 just so that he can take off first (and the control tower yells at him for this). This is also his fatal flaw, as he refused to acknowledge he was outclassed by Mihaly.
- Too Dumb to Live: Go ahead, Champ, go after Mihaly and try to fight him one-on-one. It's not like he's an infamous fighter pilot known for his skills in a league above everyone else and flying a top-of-the-line modern fighter while you're a convict piloting a refurbished 30-year old crate made from spare parts and-oh wait, you got shot in the face.
Colonel D. McKinsey
- Voiced by: Dan Woren [EN], Osamu Mukai [JP]
The self-serving base commander of the 444th Squadron. He belittles them at every turn, throwing them into solitary confinement for slightest misdeeds and taking credit for their achievements.
- Catchphrase: Mess with him or go against his orders and the only one word you'll end up hearing from his mouth is "Solitary!"
- Glory Hound: He frequently takes credit for Spare Squadron's accomplishments on the battlefield in hopes of securing a promotion for himself (a prisoner calls him out on it, only to get his butt thrown in solitary confinement). Why would he put prisoners into combat missions in the first place? After Trigger began making mincemeat out of Erusean planes on his first sortie as a prisoner, McKinsey's superiors probably congratulated him on turning rowdy prisoners into good pilots, implying that they believed he transformed an otherwise noisy penal unit into Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder.
- Hate Sink: Easily the most detestable character in the game due to his cowardice, incompetence and glory-seeking tendencies while possessing absolutely no redeeming qualities or traits whatsoever. It's so bad that Bandog would almost wish that McKinsey was killed by Erusean bombers. One wonders why the prison guards didn't find a way to murder him, as they aren't treated much better than the prisoners. The game even lampshades this in "Transfer Orders": if you shoot his transport down (which causes the mission to fail), you still get 1000 points for doing it.
- Jerkass: In addition to being a self-serving Glory Hound, McKinsey often belittles the prisoner pilots under his command and has them thrown in solitary over the most minor of offenses.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Rather then getting a cushy job far from the fighting, he ends up being transferred to the frontlines where he can earn that coveted glory himself, which is a fitting fate for someone who spent most of the game treating his subordinates like dirt while simultaneously hoarding the credit for their accomplishments for himself.
- The Neidermeyer: He's a cowardly, incompetent, glory-stealing jerkass who makes Bandog look like a Reasonable Authority Figure. For example, after Operation High Card, he has the entire 444th thrown in solitary because their initial orders did not include shooting down the Erusean bombers, even though they were not just bombing the dummy runway, but the control tower he was in, leading Bandog to clear weapons use for Spare so that they have a base to return to and to keep McKinsey from getting killed. After another mission, after Bandog acquiesces to Spare Squadron's reasonable request for permission to use the return line to make sure they have enough supplies to actually carry out their mission, McKinsey again throws everyone who used the return line in solitary because their initial orders forbid using it. It's to the point that, if McKinsey's transport is shot down during Operation Full House, even Bandog says that the cargo (McKinsey) wasn't worth protecting.
- Put on a Bus: He gets transferred elsewhere after Spare Squadron is designated as a regular military squadron. Thankfully nobody hears from him ever again.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: His bitter mumblings and Glory Hound tendencies suggest he was punted to the 444th to get him away from actual military command. When Spare is designated as a regular military squadron, Long Caster mentions McKinsey was sent to a frontline base in an active front where he could find that glory he wanted.
- Ungrateful Bastard: In addition to denying Spare Squadron any commendation for their accomplishments (and stealing them for his own), when Trigger and Count shoot down the Erusean fighters targeting his transport, he still belittles his escort and tells Wiseman that they were unreliable even though they are the reason hes still alive and breathing. Wiseman wisely tells the colonel that he'll judge Trigger and Count based on what he'd seen (namely, that Trigger shot down one of the most advanced killer drones developed at that time).
- Voiced by: Kevin M. Connolly [EN], Kenichiro Matsuda [JP]
The Airborne Warning And Control System plane that commands Spare Squadron in battle and gives them tactical information along with insults.
- Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Bandog is often telling the other members of Spare Squadron this, and with good reason: they devolve into bickering and complaining multiple times in every sortie, to the point that even the player might be tempted to shoot them down just to get them to shut up.
- Deadpan Snarker: The best that Spare Squadron can get out of him is a few snarks when hes not actively insulting them. He also also acts this way if McKinseys plane gets shot down in Transfer Orders.
- Establishing Character Moment: The Implied Death Threat he gives below, is the among the very first things he says when he makes his first appearance.
- Everyone Has Standards: Bandog may be a foul-tempered jerkass who may or may not have deliberately marked Full Band as an enemy, but even he thinks Colonel McKinsey is a useless, incompetent, cowardly, and contemptable glory-hound. During the bombing run on Spare Squadron's base, Bandog actually silences McKinsey over comms before the latter had a chance to say anything about Spare Squadron using their weapons to properly defend the base in defiance of his orders. If McKinsey's transport is shot down in "Transfer Orders", Bandog will tell you that the mission is lost, while also adding that the transport's load was not worth protecting.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Subverted in Mission 9 with Full Band being shot down by Count (after Bandog ID'd him as an enemy fighter). All Bandog had to say about it was "It was an accident."
- Implied to have been double-subverted. The reason behind Full Band's "accidental" death may have been that Bandog thinks Full Band could have used classified information he gathered on a plan to use Stonehenge to destroy the Arsenal Birds against the Osean Military, and in order to keep that information from leaking, he had to arrange Full Band's death.
- Implied Death Threat: "This is the penal unit. I decide when you die." Depending on how you interpret his actions regarding Full Band in Mission 09, he might have actually made good on this threat.
- Jerkass: Bandog, in contrast to the other AWACS from previous games, is extremely rude and abrasive towards the 444th Fighter Squadron he provides Mission Control for, calling them "bastards", "cowards" and the like. Then again, he leads a penal squadron, and the pilots he commands have no qualms about giving him lip right back. Furthermore, he punishes pretty much any insubordination or underperformance with solitary confinement.AWACS Bandog: Spare 15 has broken through the thunderclouds. Nice work for a dumbass.AWACS Bandog: Are you bastards flying just to waste fuel?
Spare 8 Champ: Go to hell!AWACS Bandog: All cowards, go hide in the thunderclouds like Trigger.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- While Bandog can get on your nerves, he does give hints on how to survive certain areas. Ignore him at your own peril when flying through narrow valleys and thunderclouds, or flying into the Eruseans' AA missile airspace.
- Although he often calls members of Spare Squadron cowards, many of them really are far more concerned with self-preservation than carrying out missions, and on more than one occasion, decide Screw This, I'm Outta Here!, even knowing they will get solitary for doing so. Their ditching often means Trigger has to finish the job alone (which he always does), which impresses Bandog plenty.
- There is actually a plausible explanation if you believe that Bandog purposely got Full Band killed: Full Band not only got his hands on restricted Osean intel, but he went and implicated the entire squadron by openly talking about it over the air. Treason (or implied blackmail against the higher-ups) is Not a Game, and given that the 444th is already made up of convicted criminals who were just then starting to get a second chance at earning their pardons, it would not be a stretch to think that Bandog silenced Full Band to prevent the whole squadron from suffering a worse fate.
- Karma Houdini: Despite being directly responsible for Full Band's death, whether it was incompetence or malice (most of Spare lean towards the latter interpretation), Bandog suffers no negative consequences for it aside from Count angrily bringing up the subject as a jab in the following operation. Since Trigger ends up transferred to another flight unit at the end of the Spare Squadron arc, Bandog is not seen again.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Several members of Spare Squadron believe Bandog did this when he marked Full Band as a hostile target after the Eruseans spoofed Osea's IFF systems and Spare formed up to allow him to try to sort out who was friend or foe, which ultimately resulted in Count firing the missile that struck Full Band's plane, killing him. While Bandog insists about this being a genuine mistake even in later missions, there was a lot of Foreshadowing beforehand in his conversations with Full Band that heavily imply that he did so with a highly plausible explanation of He Knows Too Much and after a lot of consideration and leeway for the convict. Somewhat confusing matters is that Full Band flew a F/A-18F, the exact same model as the Erusean drones spoofing Osean IFF codes.
- Meaningful Name: "Bandog" is an old term for a type of mutt guard or watchdog, bred from other vicious dogs. It fits his role as Spare Squadron's primary jailer while they're in the skies. Several characters even directly call him a "watch dog" or "guard dog". Fittingly, his emblem is a vicious-looking dog with an Osean flag-patterned collar.
- The Neidermeyer: Not as bad as McKinsey, but hes still a Jerkass who shows little to no concern for the Spare Squadron.
- Not So Above It All: For all of his belittling of the convicts in Spare Squadron, he isn't above taking High Roller up on his bets. He also makes note of Trigger and Count's Body-Count Competition, calling Count out for lying about his actual UAV kills.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Bandog usually puts down the members of Spare Squadron and comments on the mission with a distinctive abrasive tone. If he uses any other tone of voice, it either means something is about to go very wrong or is already going wrong, or he is being extremely sincere about what he says.
AWACS Bandog: You wouldn't understand, Count. Not until you take a good look in the mirror.
- During "Faceless Soldier", Bandog breaks character twice, once when the unidentified Osean squadron opens fire on Spare Squadron, catching him off-guard, and again when an Arsenal Bird started raining its "Helios" missiles in the operation area, also catching him by surprise. In the latter, he was so tied up with updating his intel that the only response Full Band got out of him for demanding additional information was a hurried, "God damn it! Not right now!" One wonders if that inadvertently resulted in Bandog's "mistake"...
- In "Transfer Orders", Bandog once again breaks character after he gives a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Count when the latter tries to talk down his praise of Trigger. Rather than his usual condescending riposte or silence at Count's retort, Bandog drops the following line, which would come back to bite Count's ass long after the AWACS gets Put on a Bus:
- Pet the Dog: While Bandog may give a first impression that he is as much of a Bad Boss as Colonel McKinsey, some of his interactions with the members of Spare Squadron paint him as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- The fact that he still fulfils his duties as AWACS to a squadron of convicts is quite telling, especially since his tone towards Spare Squadron often implies he does not care about their fate. This trope is particularly obvious in "Faceless Soldier", where he still provided Spare Squadron with all the intel he had and, at one point, even agreed to a suggestion by Tabloid for the purposes of ensuring that almost everyone stayed alive to complete the mission.
- He sometimes has an Oh, Crap! moment when a missile is locked on Trigger, and if anything, the alarm in his tone is more obvious than most other AWACS', on a level equal to a wingman.
- During Trigger's time in Spare Squadron, he has taken some flak in-mission from other squadron members who still see his alleged assassination of former President Harling as an act beyond redemption; following "444", Bandog is usually the only person who puts them down by telling them that their lack of performance makes them no better than Trigger, if not worse.
- Every once in a while, he compliments Trigger (albeit in his own Jerkass way) after the latter manages to pull off a particularly dangerous task; this is also largely because most of the other Spare Squadron members are pretty much useless during any given mission and are sometimes willing to pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here! to save their own hides, which often makes Trigger the only person who actually gets anything done.
- During "Long Day", where Spare Squadron was explicitly denied the use of the return line to repair and supply, he defied Colonel McKinsey's orders and allowed them to do so after a short conversation with Count.
- If Trigger gets struck by lightning during "First Contact", he will promptly tell Trigger to stay calm and assist him. Later, when Wiseman and Húxiān yell at the retreating Spare planes for not fighting Mihaly (who just killed Champ and one unnamed recon plane), Bandog covers for the deserters by claiming he's just sending back the damaged aircraft. In Bandog's eyes, anyone who isn't skilled enough for fighting off the dreaded "Mister X" (the majority of Spare Squadron) shouldn't stick around anyway. Bandog's immediate ordering of Trigger to hold Mihaly back pays off, as Cyclops and Strider Squadrons witness firsthand just how good Trigger can fight.
- In their last mission together, he outright tells Trigger that he is a "breath of fresh air" and "doesnt stink" like the other convicts in the squadron. Count tries to put Trigger down (again) during that conversation and Bandog immediately puts the former in his place, calling out Count's jealousy and hypocrisy.
- Put on a Bus: He is replaced by Long Caster after Trigger and Count are reassigned to the Long Range Strategic Strike Group.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: It is obvious early on that his respect for the convicts under his command hovers between "negligible" and "none", if even that. He spends as much time bad-mouthing them as he does briefing them, and, depending how you view the situation between him and Full Band, he may even be willing to kill pilots who step too far out of line. The only squadron member he actually seems to respect in the end is Trigger.
- Try Not to Die: In "Long Day", he subverts this by telling the members of Spare Squadron that they would not be useful as targets if they died too quickly. Given that McKinsey practically tells them to die if they don't complete the mission, Bandog is actually more reasonable (as he allows the prisoner pilots to restock on fuel and ammunition in complete defiance of orders).
Long Range Strategic Strike Group
The flight lead of the OADF's Cyclops Squadron, callsign Cyclops 1.
- Ace Pilot: Hes noted to be one of the "Osean Big-Shots", along with Trigger. He's the one who figures out the structural weakness of the platforms in the mission "Fleet Destruction" and will inform others about it, and he's the only pilot alongside Trigger whom Long Caster entrusted with taking on the Arsenal Bird Liberty itself while other pilots deal with the drones.
- Bald, Black Leader Guy: He's bald, he's black, and he runs the LRSSG.
- Boisterous Bruiser: A pilot version. He's not quite a Blood Knight, but he's always in a good mood while fighting from a cockpit. When he's back in action at Farbanti, he expresses both competitiveness in getting back up on the killboards, and pride that his squadrons have done well in his absence.
- The Gadfly: The second Count complains about being treated like a baby chick, Wiseman ramps up the little-chick jokes, and starts calling himself the mother hen. It happens in every mission he's in afterwards, and doesn't end until his untimely death in the Battle of Farbanti.Wiseman: Chirp chirp chirp, li'l chick! ... Don't worry: stick with your mother hen, and you'll make it back safe and sound.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Realizing the rest of the LRSSG are in trouble of dying thanks to "Mister X", he attempts to act as a lure to Mihaly, so Trigger can shoot him down. Unfortunately, Mihaly shoots him down in the process, which does leave the other pilots alive and quite upset.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: His death noticeably helps in Count's Character Development.
- Senseless Sacrifice: He distracts Mihaly in order to give Trigger a chance to shoot him down, and is himself shot down by Mihaly in the process. Before Trigger can avenge him, however, the Osea-Erusea simultaneous satellite attacks rendered everyone's electrical systems haywire and Mihaly uses this chance to make his escape. Count bitterly notes that even though they actually won the battle, Wiseman died for nothing.
- Team Dad: He cares for his squadron and always seeks the best for them. He even sees the good in both Trigger and Count, siding with them over Bandog and McKinsey. Eventually, all this starts to rub off on Count, who is shaken and primed for getting back at Mister X for killing Wiseman.
- Worthy Opponent: Mihaly acknowledges him as such.You're quite the entertainer, but the show's over with this next shot. ...He wasn't a bad pilot.
- Voiced by: Michelle Ruff [EN], Michiko Kaiden [JP]
A pilot in Cyclops Squadron, callsign Cyclops 4. Foul-mouthed and temperamental, she constantly butts heads with Count once he and Trigger are assigned to the LRSSG. Late in the war, she is reassigned to Strider Squadron as Strider 4.
- Action Girl: The only female pilot in Cyclops and later, Strider Squadron. Unlike Brownie, she survives the Lighthouse War and is regarded as the second best shot in her squadron after Trigger.
- Dark and Troubled Past: She mentions during Mission 18 when Strider Squadron is raiding Shilage Castle for supplies that stealing to survive was commonplace where she grew up. Count, himself having committed fraud, is taken aback by this admission.
- I Owe You My Life: During the 444's mission to support the LRSSG, Trigger facing Mihaly on his own bought time for the LRSSG pilots to retreat, with Wiseman and Húxiān among them. She brings it up in Trigger and Count's first mission as pardoned LRSSG pilots, acknowledging that Trigger's actions saved her from "the demon in the [enemy] experimental squadron" and simultaneously styming Count's attempt at bragging.
- Ironic Name: Húxiān in Chinese means "Fox Immortal", a deity known in Chinese mythology to convey wealth and property. This contrasts with her background, where stealing to survive was commonplace for her.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: She knows she's no match against Mihaly, so she doesn't put herself into a suicidal battle and thus only supports Trigger from a distance as he tries to take Mihaly down.
- Lady Swears-a-Lot: Count notes that she swears a lot, even more than he does. Her response is that she's not just good at swearing; she's got quick fists, too.Count: (after a beat) ...I thought you'd say that.
- The Smurfette Principle: The only female fighter pilot in the LRSSG.
- Undying Loyalty: In battle, she prioritizes protecting her allies on the ground, even at the risk of getting shot down and injured. During one such instance during the Stonehenge Defensive, Wiseman tells her to get back to base lest they lose her; she reluctantly complies.
- In the briefing for mission 17, while many of the other pilots all want to go home, she is ready to follow Trigger to Tyler Island.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: She develops this rapport with Count. The two constantly bicker, but they're willing to stick their necks out for each other. Both pilots having been thieves in their respective pasts probably helps with that.
- Voiced by: John DeMita [EN], Naoki Tamanoi [JP]
A pilot in Strider Squadron, callsign Strider 3. Has a son back in Osea, whom he can't wait to tell the various stories he witnesses in the war.
- Action Dad: He has a son back home in Osea, whom he hopes to tell almost all his adventures as a pilot with when the war is over. He'll comment at times, "This will be a good story to tell my son."
- Dark and Troubled Past: Averted. As far as Strider Squadron goes, Jaeger's also the only one who doesn't have any significant baggage with him (compared to Trigger and Count having been convicts, and Húxiān having had to take from others to survive long before becoming a pilot), which makes him the most "normal" pilot of Strider Squadron, relatively speaking.
- Everyone Has Standards: He's not happy about having to raid Shilage Castle for supplies, due to the refugees staying there as well as fighting the local garrison who are just trying to protect their home and the refugees. Not only that, the area is of cultural value to Shilage, which makes dropping bombs on it an extra-bitter pill to swallow.Jaeger: Not something I'll tell my son about.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Against Mister X, Jaeger immediately decides that he, Count, and Húxiān need to leave this enemy to Trigger, lest they get in the way; thus resorting to indirect support from a distance.
- Team Dad: Not as much as Wiseman to the LRSSG pilots, but he keeps an eye on Count and doesn't take any crap from him while Wiseman is off-duty.
AWACS Long Caster
- Voiced by: Tim Friedlander [EN], Kenji Nomura [JP]
The Airborne Warning And Control System plane that commands the Long Range Strategic Strike Group after Spare Squadron is reassigned to the LRSSG. Has a habit of eating while on the job.
- Big Eater: His emblem of all things is a hamburger. The first thing he talks about is hoping that you don't mind him eating on the job (a habit to keep him focused on the job), and he frequently compares things to food in some way, be it hamburgers, pizza, sandwiches, and pie. Count and Jaeger sometimes join in on the food banter.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: He is generally very laid back, even on missions, and speaks rather casually for an AWACS operator. So when he starts speaking formally with no casual air whatsoever, you know for a fact that things are not looking good.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Unlike Bandog, Long Caster treats the transfers from Spare professionally. The difference between Long Caster and Bandog emphasized when a member of the LRSSG is shot down: while Bandog had reminded Spare Squadron that they were expendable and tended to speak of self-preservation in the context of preventing damage to OADF property (their planes), Long Caster tells the pilot to bail out, as planes are replaceable, but pilots aren't. He also takes command after the Osean-Erusean A-SAT attacks cut off all communications and support between all combatants, as well as the death of Wiseman, which has left the LRSSG commander in shock. When everything comes down to defeating the Radical Erusean faction's forces at the space elevator, he treats the friendly Erusean planes with respect and broadcasts on an open channel so they can coordinate with the Osean forces.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Long Caster really likes sandwiches and talks about them more than any other foodstuff. He's even eating them during missions, and—we kid you not—his emblem (not shown in-game) is that of a burger with an Osean flag on a toothpick.
- You Are in Command Now: When the Usean satellite network is taken out by Osea and Eruseas simultaneous anti-satellite attack, he assumes command of the LRSSG after the company commander suffers a nervous breakdown and subsequent depression.
- Voiced by: Jalen K. Cassell [EN], Akimitsu Takase [JP]
A pilot in Strider Squadron, callsign Strider 2. Late in the war, he switches to Cyclops Squadron in favor of Count.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Has a rather poor view of Trigger initially, despite the fact that Wiseman, his company commander, can cite two highly impressive feats of piloting (Taking on Mister X/Mihaly and destroying the prototype drone) that he was personally witness to. After the first sortie together, his tune changes completely.
- Dislikes the New Guy: Count is not happy being assigned as Cyclops 2 while Trigger becomes Strider 1, and mouths off how he should have had that position. Skald questions whether or not they should just follow Count if he was given leadership of Strider Squadron, and sarcastically comments that he must've been a spectacular leader in his previous squadron (which he definitely wasn't).
- Mauve Shirt: Skald, along with Lanza, is one of your initial wingmen in Strider Squadron, and has enough voice lines to give him some nominal importance. He makes it alive all the way to the end of the war, but ends up relegated to Cyclops Squadron in favor of Count, who, along with Jaeger and Húxiān, makes up the final composition of your squadron.
- Voiced by: Kôsuke Gotô [JP]
A pilot in Strider Squadron, callsign Strider 4. Late in the war, he switches to Cyclops Squadron in favor of Húxiān.
- Dislikes the New Guy: Less pronounced than Skald, but he tells Count not to slow the rest of the squadron on their first sortie.
- Mauve Shirt: Lanza, along with Skald, first flies with you as part of Strider Squadron midway through the story, and makes it alive all the way to the end of the war, but ends up relegated to Cyclops Squadron in favor of Húxiān, who, along with Jaeger and Count, makes up the final composition of Strider Squadron. During the final takeoff, he wishes he could've flown with you, but his injuries and his damaged plane both prevent him from joining the fight.
- Voiced by: Stephen Weese [EN], Yasuyuki Sano [JP]
A pilot in Cyclops Squadron, callsign Cyclops 3. Noted by Wiseman to be one of the most capable members of the LRSSG.
- Mauve Shirt: While he isn't part of Strider Squadron, Fencer provides support while in Cyclops Squadron and has nearly as much dialogue as Lanza and Skald, and makes it all the way to the end of the war, only skipping out on the final battle because the rest of Cyclops Squadron is exhausted following Operation Daredevil. He even takes up the role of leader once he's put in command of Cyclops Squadron, coaching newcomer Tailor in a manner reminiscent to Wiseman.
- You Are in Command Now: Following Wiseman's death and Count's subsequent inability to lead Cyclops Squadron at the end of the Battle of Farbanti, Fencer is put in charge of Cyclops Squadron all the way to the end of the war.
Other OADF Members
- Voiced by: Brad Venable [EN], Masamichi Kitada [JP]
The flight lead of the OADF's Mage Squadron, callsign Mage 1. During the early days of the war, Trigger is assigned to his squadron as Mage 2, and Clown teaches him a few combat tips like a mentor would.
- A Father to His Men: A minor example. He takes a mentor position over Trigger in the initial missions, and treats him fairly, not coming down on him too hard if/when Trigger makes mistakes. Even when Trigger is accused of murdering Harling, he still remains calm and doesn't fly off the handle at him, even trying to cover for him by pointing out how chaotic the battle was and how close the drones were to Harling's plane.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: In a series known for it, Clown always has a quip at the ready, and keeps his cool even when a mission is falling apart.
- The Mentor: Acts as one of sorts to Trigger during the initial days of the war.
- Nice Guy: Welcoming and doesn't bust Trigger's chops too badly despite being a rookie. He's not a rough-around-the-edges ace like Bartlett.
- Put on a Bus: He's never seen again after Trigger is convicted and reassigned to Spare Squadron.
- Voiced by: Doug Erholtz [EN], Yugo Sekiguchi [JP]
The flight lead of Golem Squadron, callsign Golem 1.
- It's All My Fault: He blames himself for Brownie's death as he had ordered her to withdraw from the combat zone when her plane was damaged, sending her right into Mihaly's ambush.
- The Mentor: Much like Clown, but he seems to have this position over both Golem and Mage. He places priority over protecting and guiding "the fledglings" of the squadron, and after Trigger's "incident" with Harling, he seems more angry at Clown for not keeping an eye on Trigger than at Trigger himself.
- Put on a Bus: He's never seen again after Trigger is convicted and reassigned to Spare Squadron.
- Theme Naming: All known Golem Squadron pilots have a callsign that's some manner of sprite or fairy. In his case, it's a knocker (also known as a Tommy Knocker).
- Voiced by: Erica Mendez [EN], Natsuki Aikawa [JP]
A pilot in Golem Squadron, callsign Golem 2.
- Break the Cutie: She noticably gets more and more panicked and afraid as Mihaly pursues her, calling him a "predator." By the time Mihaly finally takes the shot, she is practically screaming for support.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: A pretty brutal example for Ace Combat. Mihaly toys with her before shooting her down, making sure her scrambling to stay alive is, "all she has".
- Sacrificial Lamb: She is caught and killed by Mihaly in the third mission. Her death cements that Anyone Can Die in this game, and shows that Mihaly is a very predatory fighter in a league of his own.
- The Smurfette Principle: The only female fighter pilot in Golem squadron.
- Theme Naming: All known Golem Squadron pilots have a callsign that's some manner of sprite or fairy. In her case, it's a brownie.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: She goes out of her way to avoid civilian casualties during Mission 2, even often raising concerns to her wingmen about enemy planes falling into the town below. Planes crashing into civilian properties account for some notable tragedies in the series, after all.
AWACS Sky Keeper
- Voiced by: David W. Collins [EN], Hidenori Takahashi [JP]
The Airborne Warning And Control System plane that commands Mage Squadron and Golem Squadron during the opening days of the Lighthouse War.
- Hero-Worshipper: He's an ardent supporter of Vincent Harling, regarding him as a hero who ended the Circum-Pacific War. Even though he's not the president anymore, Sky Keeper says that Harling is always the president in his eyes, and does his best to rescue him from the Eruseans. He's particularly heartbroken when Harling's plane is shot down, and sounded betrayed when he addressed Trigger, whom he believed to be responsible for the incident.
- Put on a Bus: After Trigger becomes a convict and joins the Spare Squadron, he isn't seen again for the rest of the war.
Major Deanna McOnie
- Voiced by: Haruka Shimizu [JP]
An Osean Major in charge of restoring the only remaining Stonehenge cannon so it can be used to shoot down one of the Arsenal Birds.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: When the survey vehicles are sabotaged by Erusean secret agents, she decided to take up her assistant's advice and aim at the Arsenal Bird manually after Trigger slowed it down by disabling its main propellers. With an unfamiliar weapons system that is barely in good enough condition to fire a single shot and through the visual distortion of the Arsenal Bird's Microwave Powered Dome, she scores a bullseye clean through the Arsenal Bird's core, splitting the aerial warship in half.
- Majorly Awesome: She's both in charge of the ground defense force around Stonehenge as well as overseeing the repair operation of the cannon itself as well, and she's the one who fired the shot that destroyed the first Arsenal Bird.
Warrant Officer Lehmann
Major McOnie's assistant in the operation to restore the Stonehenge cannon.
- The Smart Guy: He knows what he's doing when he helps Deanna restore the Stonehenge cannon, and he's the one who came up with the idea of manually aiming at the Arsenal Bird itself after the survey vehicles are sabotaged and thus unable to function as the cannon's targeting system, but this requires the air force to slow Arsenal Bird down first.
An Osean Army officer working to spirit away General Édouard Labarthe after the fall of Farbanti.
- Badass Driver: He's driving a VIP in a car at top speed through a metropolitan war-torn city where everybody is shooting everybody, and on several occasions, he somehow manages to out-drive armored cars and tanks trying to take him out.
- Captain Obvious: Aside from being an actual captain, he will remind you that his car isn't exactly a tank when he takes damage.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: At one point when tanks are blocking the road, he quips that they're probably going to ask for a toll payment.
- The Mole: An Osean AWACS with the callsign "Argus" identifies Karl as an impostor, but doesn't offer any evidence or proof. This trope is a Subverted Trope because AWACS Argus was fed false intelligence claiming that Karl is an impostor in the 2019 edition of Aces at War: A History that is included in the Aces at War editions of the physical console releases in a case of All There in the Manual.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: All his efforts to get Labarthe out of Anchorhead Bay are for naught when an Osean F-16 shoots down the Chinook helicopter evacuating them.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Dies in the very mission he's introduced in.
An ex-OADF pilot and officer with the rank of Colonel. He went with ex-President Harling to the International Space Elevator to conduct a personal inspection when it comes under attack, commandeering an Erusean V-22 under the codename "Mother Goose One".
- Deadpan Snarker: For the few moments he talks over the comms, he's fairly snarky, acknowledging to Sky Keeper that his piloting skills are at least better than Harling's. Then there's his reaction to Sky Keeper assigning him the callsign "Mother Goose One"."Mother Goose One? That's the best you can come up with?"
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Dies in the very mission he's introduced in.
Princess Rosa Cossette D'Elise
The public face of the Erusean Royal Family. Her immediate family was from a civilian background but was put into the palace after the previous Erusean kings died.
- Anti-Villain: Cossette has no personal malice towards Osea and only declares war on them because she believes Osea's influence will slowly take over Erusea and the rest of the Usean Continent, and she goes out of her way to make sure that her soldiers avoid civilian casualties. When she realizes that the war brought nothing but chaos and destruction to both countries, she immediately works on bringing about peace, even if it risks her own life in the process.
- The Atoner: Becomes one after the war ended. With Usea in a sorry state as a result of the war, she helped taking care of refugees fleeing into her country and promoting peace between nations.
- Break the Cutie: The war really starts to take its toll on her. By the time Avril finds her, everything has gone wrong. Cossette's father was killed in the bombing of Farbanti. Then while escaping the violence she became the Sole Survivor when her plane got shot down by rebels. Upon exiting the wrecked plane, her dog (her best friend), died protecting her from Erusean radical troops (who were then forced to leave courtesy of the vengeful conservative forces).
- Cool Big Sis: Implied to be one for Mihaly's granddaughters.
- Death Seeker: One interpretation of her in the final act. She constantly throws herself alone into suicidal situations, desperate to atone personally for the chaos she helped cause.
- Doesn't Trust Those Guys: One of the reasons she went to war with Osea. She believes that the International Space Elevator that Osea built in Selatapura is an attempt to slowly take over the entire Usea Continent. By the end, she finally understands that Vincent Harling really commissioned it to be built in the name of peace, with the tower itself being a large solar power plant, a gigantic radio tower that can cover half the planet, and an international space station that promotes cooperative space exploration between nations.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: She's the public face of the Erusean Royal Family who strengthens her government's relationship with the ordinary Erusean population. She even attracts an audience with Osean troops and convicts, all of whom would rather have the war end sooner. However, she's just a puppet meant to increase morale and lenghthen the war. After the war, she's the only known survivor of the Erusean Royal Family.
- Heel Realization: After seeing the painting in the Space Elevator, she is convinced of how the Space Elevator was built for the desire of uniting the world, instead of as a show of national hegemony.
- Impractically Fancy Outfit: Even when she's trudging through the mud all she has to wear is the fancy dress she had on when she was stranded. Lampshaded at one point when Rosa has to put on an atmospheric pressure suit and Avril wonders if she'll have trouble putting it on.
- Middle Name Basis: On the comms, she goes by Cossette, and Avril calls her Cossette when she refers to the princess by name. Outside of when using her full name, nobody calls her Rosa or Princess D'Elise.
- No One Could Survive That!: In the penultimate mission she tries to parachute from the Space Elevator to safety just as Hugin and Munin shows up. They shoot a missile at Counts plane, who evaded it and the missile hits into the space elevator just as Cossette is jumping down, and its implied that she gets caught in the resulting explosion. It even makes a show of showing her suit's helmet falling from the explosion, but somehow she survives, sending out a distress message in the final mission and using her influence after the war to assist refugees at the Lighthouse.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: After recovering from her Break the Cutie moment, Cossette takes proactive measures to try and end the war. Notably, she is the one that helps shut down the Arsenal Birds shield to give the Osean/Erusean coalition a chance to finally destroy it.
- Sheltered Aristocrat: Implied, since her speeches about making a clean war and vying for a quick and painless victory were sincere. Once reality slaps her hard in the face, she's left a barely-functional wreck for a while, and once she gets the full political situation she immediately takes a more measured stance.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Girly Girl to Avril Mead's Tomboy. She's a prim and proper lady who's a member of the royalty while Avril is a rough ex-convict who swears like nobody's business, yet the two strike a fast friendship once Avril saves Cossette from the unfriendly Erusean forces.
- Took a Level in Badass: Cossette goes from propaganda girl to Action Girl, and after the war she helps bring about peace.
- Unwitting Pawn: She's being manipulated by some of the younger warmongering Erusean officers into declaring war on Osea. By the time she realized her mistake, her country is all but ruined from the chaos.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: She truly believes that by declaring war on Osea, she's doing what was best for her people. As soon as she realizes how wrong she is, she immediately tries her best to help bring about peace.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: It's implied that when Farbanti fell that the Erusean radicals tried to have her killed since as they no longer had any use for her.
General Édouard Labarthe
A senior officer in the Erusean military who attempts to defect to Osea near the end of the war.
- Good Old Ways: He described himself as a true conservative in the Erusean government, with him having a low opinion of using drones to replace human pilots in warfare (which was the idea of the younger radical officers). Considering the issue of the next generation of killer drones with Mihaly's flight data, Labarthe just might be right.
- Mr. Exposition: He's the one who revealed the truth behind the real cause of the war. It was all the work of some younger, radical Erusean officers, who are driven by the AI technology they received from Belka and use it to develop an advanced drone army. Their performance goes beyond all expectations, so they use this to gain public opinion and opportunists into declaring war on Osea, even manipulating Princess Cossette herself as well.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's one of the more decent Eruseans in the game, which makes sense considering that he was a mole for Osea all along, having secretly providing information for the Osean Army in order to put an end to the war that he knows is slowly destroying their country. Many Eruseans hold him in high regard and even follow him in the defection after the whole satellite attack chaos. Even some of the radicals still hold him with some respect, with some of the radio chatter you can hear being from some radicals trying to peacefully convince the general to support the war.
- Reverse Mole: He's actually an informant for the Oseans, having leaked tons of info to them ever since the start of the war. With the fall of Farbanti and the deaths of most of Erusea's leadership, Labarthe finally decides to make the defection official in order to take command of the rest of the Erusean forces and put an end to the war.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: After everything you did to protect him in the Escort Mission, his helicopter ends up getting shot down by an F-16 presumably under the command of Osean AWACS Argus, who has claimed that Captain Karl, who is also in the helicopter, is an imposter. This also means the conservative Erusean factions won't cooperate with Osea due to the perceived betrayal.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Dies in the very mission he's introduced in.
Erusean Air and Space Administration
Mihaly A. Shilage
A veteran pilot of the Erusean Air Force. He flies the experimental Su-30SM, and is often nicknamed "Mister X" by his adversaries. He is the leader of Sol squadron. His callsign is Sol 1 and his TAC name is "Archange", taken from the second-to-last name of his full name.
- Ace Pilot: Hes an ace from two wars ago and years of experience have only honed his skills further. The only person able to keep up with him is Trigger.
- A Father to His Men: Mihaly is a fatherly figure to his Sol squadron, and his entire squadron respects him greatly. When Mihaly gets into dangerous fights, he often tells his squadron to hold back and save themselves while he goes in alone. When members of the squadron are hit and ejects, Mihaly audibly thanks them for their service. In his final duel with Trigger, he tells Sol squadron to look past him and build a better future without him.
- Anti-Villain: He cares deeply for his granddaughters and supports his squadrons goal to declare independence from Erusea. After Trigger shoots him down in their final battle, Mihaly expresses remorse for his contributing to the Eruseans drone program that helped start the war due to his desire to fly in the skies again. He asks Trigger to shut down the drones production before his signal is lost.
- Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: Mihaly taught Yellow 13 before the Usean Continental War but also learned some close-in techniques from him during mock dogfights. Mastering Yellow 13's new moves resulted in the two having midair collisions three times, and it is implied that Mihaly got better at close-in maneuvers better than Yellow 13 did. For that matter, Mihaly also notices that Trigger dodges missiles quickly and angles his plane so that any missile hits would be mostly deflected away from critical parts of his plane. Guess what Mihaly manages to do in the final duel?
- Badass Boast: Coupled with a Worthy Opponent moment to Trigger in their final confrontation:"There are pilots like you in every generation. And I felled every last one of them."
- Bang Bang BANG: The railgun on his X-02S Strike Wyvern makes a terrifyingly loud cracking noise, not dissimilar from a thunderclap. While the same weapon isn't quiet in player hands, the earsplitting noise is not heard.
- Blood Knight: Its noted he doesnt seem interested in anything not in the sky and his flying and fighting style is particularly lethal, with a focus on lining up perfect shots and killing his enemies in a single hit. He is thrilled when he encounters Trigger, a pilot who can actually keep up with him.
- Brought Down to Normal: Permanently grounded, Mihaly spends the last of his days unable to fly in the comfort of a hospital. He hates every minute of it, but Avril narrates that being able to die of old age is an indicator of peace.
- Crew of One: He consistently flies two-seat aircraft, but the radio intercept officer's seat has been deleted in favor of advanced automation and flight recording systems, thus eliminating the Guy in Back. As such, unlike when the player takes a two-seater, Mihaly is truly flying a two-seat plane on his own.
- Crosshair Aware: The general firing path of his Strike Wyvern's railgun is shown on radar several seconds before it actually fires. This is however, downplayed by how terrifyingly fast he can turn around, such that at the last second, he can flip around and suddenly, his weapon is facing towards you instead of away from you.
- Deconstruction: Of a typical Ace Combat player, or more specifically, an actual pilot who flies like an Ace Combat player. He's a living legend whose only passion is flying in the sky and the intense adrenaline from dogfighting with worthy enemies, everything else is secondary to him. This puts a strain on his body every time he takes to the sky because he just could not stop flying despite his age, and leaves him with no other real enjoyment in life besides flying. He also deconstructs a Mercenery ace type as well. He doesn't care what he shoots down, only that it gets the job done, even if it means shooting harmless, fleeing pilots like Brownie down, toying with her even as she's scared out of her mind before taking the shot anyway.
- Dented Iron: Mihaly is noted in-universe to be unbelievably resilient and flexible for someone his age, but no matter how strong he is, the continuous strain of flying in the outer layers of the atmosphere and his advancing age have ravaged his body and he needs a special G-suit to withstand the crazy maneuvers he pulls. During your first encounter with him in Yinshi Valley (which is Mihaly's second known sortie in the war), radio chatter indicates that the duel's strain on his body is so great that his aircraft's systems send out critical warnings, and Dr. Schroeder later confirms that he came back to base in a messy state.
- The Dreaded: Osean forces are absolutely terrified of him, with good reason. Every time he shows up in his trademark Su-30SM, someone else isn't going home and the only pilot to survive dogfighting with him throughout the entire story is Trigger, and as such, Mihaly considers Trigger to be a Worthy Opponent.
- Everyone Has Standards: He may be a ruthless, predatory fighter pilot who rules the skies with an iron fist, but after losing the dogfight with Trigger, he uses his last moments in the air to address Trigger directly and beseech him to destroy Belka's drones due to the destruction they caused and his own guilt from contributing to their development.
- Fate Worse than Death: After his final duel with Trigger, he ends up a cripple after being shot down, leaving him bedridden unable to fly ever again and can only wait to die in his bed. At least that's how he sees it, though Avril thinks otherwise, saying that at least he gets to die peacefully on his bed.
- Graceful Loser: Mihaly truly respects Trigger; when Trigger defeats him, he acknowledges the errors of his own egotism, and tells Trigger to stop the drones he created.
- Hero Killer: Every time he shows up in his trademark red-and-black Su-30SM, at least one Osean pilot isn't going home. In his first appearance, he kills Gargoyle 1 and Golem 2 "Brownie". In his second appearance, he downs Spare 8 "Champ". In his third appearance, he takes down Cyclops 1 "Wiseman", one of Osea's top aces. The only pilot known to survive dogfighting Mihaly in live combat is Trigger.
- Hypocrite: Mihaly is critical of drones and believes that they have no business taking over the skies, but he provides data that helps them do just that, as the data collection mission allows him to fly combat missions again and Dr. Schroeder provides him with flight suits that let him fly as hard or harder than he did in his youth to gather that data. When he is shot down, he acknowledges his hypocrisy and that he helped plunge the world into chaos and put "his kingdom" in danger to satisfy his ego.
- Laser-Guided Karma: One way to interpret his being permanently grounded due to his age and injuries sustained from losing the dogfight against Trigger is that losing the ability to take to "his" sky is a fitting punishment for his ruthlessness when he flew, especially when you remember the way he toyed with Brownie before finally killing her. Avril disagrees with this view, saying it's better to die peacefully in bed than to be killed in a war. Mihaly, being himself, doesn't share his opinion on the matter but the bitter tone in his voice indicates he is less than pleased with the situation overall.
- Leitmotif: Any time he appears, expect a epic choir, courtesy of the track "Archange".
- Old Soldier: Hes one the great ace pilots from two previous wars, with years of experience under his belt. Hes even said to be the instructor of Yellow 13 according to the Aces At War: A History 2019 manual, and is easily the single deadliest ace in the game save for the Player Character.
- One-Man Army: Mihaly is still capable of downing entire squadrons of fighters, even if he's really old. He's also capable of sinking fleets of warships by himself, dodging flak all the way.
- Overly Long Name: His full name is: Mihaly Dumitru Margareta Corneliu Leopold Blanca Karol Aeon Ignatius Raphael Maria Niketas Archange Shilage. This is indicative of his royal background. His second-to-last name serves as his callsign.
- The Perfectionist: Has shades of this. He often toys around with his targets first, waiting for a perfect chance to launch the missile that will kill them in one single shot. It's implied he never missed his mark before until he finally meets Trigger. During their first dogfight, when he fires a missile at Trigger and misses, he outright tells Sol 2 that it "wasn't the plan". If Mihaly lands a missile shot during the same fight that doesn't immediately kill Trigger, he'll tell Sol 2 that Trigger's aggressive flying style actually deflects most of the damage.
- Pet the Dog: Despite his aloof demeanor, he loves his granddaughters very much. He also is shown to care for his subordinates and acknowledges both Trigger and Wiseman as worthy pilots.
- Recurring Boss: Mihaly is fought three times throughout the story; first when Trigger and Spare Squadron help the out the LRSSG in Yinshi Valley; then at the Battle of Farbanti, where Mihaly and Sol Squadron reinforce the faltering Erusean army; and finally during the raid on Shilage Castle, where he decides to settle the score with Trigger one-on-one.
- Red Baron: The LRSSG constantly refers to him as Mister X, and several characters that heard of his legend know him as the King of the Sky.
- Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: "Mihaly" is the Hungarian form of "Michael", and his middle name (as well as TAC name) "Archange" is French for "Archangel". Pairing the two names results in Archangel Michael.
- Retired Badass: It's noted that he came back to piloting for Erusea after 28 years of inactivity, being convinced by Dr. Schroeder to provide flight data for future drone use shortly after the war began and UAV casualty rate skyrocketed.
- The Rival: His first encounter with Trigger in Yinshi Valley proves to be interesting enough that he engages the protagonist in a heated dogfight amidst a violent thunderstorm and strong winds, ignoring his aircraft systems' repeated warnings that his own vital signs are reaching a critical state. Successive encounters with him only reinforce his desire to defeat Trigger, just as he has done with so many aces.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: He still retains his familys royal status. Despite being heir to the throne of the former grand duchy of Shilage, he signed up for the Erusean Air Force and served through three wars (including the current, Lighthouse War.) One wonders why he didn't reactivate for a chance to fight Mobius 1 during the Usean Continental War.
- Super Prototype: His Su-30SM is specially modified in order to record flight data to be fed to the machine learning algorithms that Erusea's infamous Attack Drones are programmed with. More particularly, his flight suit is designed for an extremely tight data-integration with the systems on his plane, giving him superior situational awareness, and the suit applies selective pressure on his body to allow him to endure much greater G-forces a human body his age could typically tolerate. In the final battle against him, he flies Erusea's new X-02S Strike Wyvern, an variant of the X-02 Wyvern from Ace Combat 04, whose base stats outperforms every other plane in the game, and is also capable of mounting Erusea's experimental "Arclight" electromagnetic launcher, designed in response to Estovakia's own electromagnetic launchers, and the technology's growing availability amongst Osean forces, and has been further modified with the advanced systems from his Su-30SM.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: His Strike Wyvern's railgun is capable of firing in 3-round bursts if the fight is dragged on long enough, something that no plane carrying that weapon, even your playable version of the plane he's flying at that point, is capable of doing.
- Watching his aircraft movements during the debriefing of the mission "First Contact" makes it obvious that his plane is not suspect to the same physics as yours are. He literally zips around in the air from one point to another at times outrunning fully upgraded missiles and performing maneuvers that no aircraft, drone or manned, would be able to do without tearing themselves in half. Given, you're not supposed to defeat him in that mission, since you're only supposed to briefly duel him and score a missile hit or two before he retreats but it's still jarringly obvious upon review.
- The Stoic: Mihaly rarely shows emotion and comes off as aloof. Even when hes excited, his voice barely raises.
- Worthy Opponent: He comes to view both Trigger and Wiseman as such. He even tells his granddaughters about Trigger.
- Voiced by: Austin Lee Matthews [EN]
Mihalys second in command and part of his group of elite pilots. His callsign is Sol 2.
- Ace Pilot: He's second-in-command of the Sol Squadron and is one of the more capable pilots in the game, second only to Trigger and Mihaly himself. Jaeger comments how he and Sol Squadron are insane after they accelerate to takeoff speed while inside a tunnel during the raid on Shilage Castle.
- Admiring the Abomination: His last words before he is killed is him commenting in absolute awe how Hugin and Munin fly exactly like Mihaly.
- Enemy Mine: In the last missions, he and Seymour team up with the Osea-Erusea alliance to attack the governmental Eruseans and their drone army surrounding the Space Elevator. Even though both he and Count don't really like it, they both understand what's at stake and drop their hostilities. Wit even shares some vital info about the Arsenal Bird's weakness, putting his faith in Trigger to take it down.
- Fighting for a Homeland: Following Eruseas collapse into civil war, Wit and several of his squadron mates seek to declare independence for their homeland of Voslage from Erusea.
- Undying Loyalty: He is ready to follow Mihaly anywhere. They even show up to protect Mihaly's homeland during Strider Squadron's raid attack on Shilage Castle. It also shows that Voslage and Shilage were on very good terms before getting assimilated into Erusea. After Mihaly is downed, Wit shows he will not assume the leader position's designation of Sol Squadron, and still uses the callsign Sol 2.
- The Worf Effect: He can be one of the many aces killed by Hugin and Munin in the final mission, as a testament to the threat the advanced drone pair pose when equipped with Mihaly's complete flight data. Long Caster even comments that Wit was one of the best pilots they had. As this happens after one of the UA Vs has been taken down, you can avert this by eliminating the remaining drone before it shoots him down, which nets some repurposed dialogue in the transition to the fight against the core ADF-11s.
- Voiced by: Max Sterling [EN]
A member of the Sol Squadron. His callsign is Sol 3.
- Sole Survivor: If Wit is killed by the drones in the final mission, by the end of the game, he's the only one of his squadron who still remained flying, as Mihaly was shot down and crippled, and the other Sol members did not return for the finale.
- Those Two Guys: He and Wit usually stick around each other, and Seymour looks up to him, saying that if there's anyone who should lead the squadron in Mihaly's place, it's Wit. He doesn't take it well when the surviving RAVEN shoots down and kills Wit during the final battle, and asks you to let him avenge Wit, though by this point you're really the only one capable of doing anything to the drones.
Research & Development
- Voiced by: D.C. Douglas [EN], Hiroyuki Kinoshita [JP]
The enigmatic scientist in charge of the Erusean drone improvement project. He's tasked with monitoring and recording Mihaly's flight records and use the data to improve the UAVs.
- Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments. Such as when he said Mihalys Overly Long Name in a way that sounded like there was nothing special about it, and when Count indirectly called him the king of all dumbasses when his AI controlled escorts opened fire on him and Trigger.
- Defector from Decadence: He reveals that following the Belkan War, many Belkans, including himself, set out into the world to become weapons dealers and designers in order to both breed war and improve Belka's military technology as their final revenge upon the world. However, his involvement in prolonging the war and the eventual collapse into anarchy caused him to become disillusioned, which built up in him until the final confrontation at the drone factory. Ionela's scathing speech was the proverbial last straw, and he decided enough was enough and assisted Cossette with bringing the drone program he had created down.
- Face Death with Dignity: Subverted. He was fully prepared for Ionela to kill him once the truth about his work came out. Ionela instead choose to spare him, and after giving him a scathing speech, convinces him to help bring about the end to the war.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Subverted. He discarded his soul when the Lighthouse War began, so that he could collect the data from each sortie that Mihaly took to improve the drone army. However, as the war dragged on, and Mihalys granddaughters began to resent him, his soul kept coming back to him, but he kept pushing it away, because he felt that it was too late for him to turn back. He finally accepts it back when Ionela convinces him to stop after calling him out on his motivations to avenge his homeland of Belka.
- Gone Horribly Right: He wants to improve the drone army to its fullest potential. He got his wish alright, as the communications all over Usea are downed due to simultaneous Osea and Erusean satellite attacks, the drone army starts acting out on their own: taking command of other drones and even normal fighters and start producing more UAVs in the abandoned factories. Hugin and Munin, the two superdrones that he uploaded Mihaly's flight data into, proved to be smart enough to actually kickstart a Skynet-esque campaign to take over the entire world with their drone army.
- HeelFace Turn: After being discovered as a Belkan and that he's behind the plot to use Erusea's drone army to take revenge on Osea, Princess Cossette and Mihaly's granddaughters show him the error of his ways, and he finally helps in dismantling the drone factory underneath the space elevator.
- Heel Realization: He realizes that the drones that he is developing were causing chaos and despair for all, causing him to realize that his Belkan desire for revenge was foolishness. He then does a HeelFace Turn.
- Herr Doktor: He is rather amoral in his pursuit of science and his name sounds like a German name, which is a hint that he's not actually Erusean.
- Ignored Epiphany: He sounds horrified when the AI controlled airplanes escorting him open fire on the fighter squadron that just saved his life, seemingly of their own free will. However, this incident doesnt stop him from (albeit reluctantly) uploading Mihaly's flight data into Hugin and Munin, and it takes Ionela shooting the data chip to bits (preventing it from being uploaded into more drones) and delivering him a scathing speech for him to realize how much wrong he has done.
- I've Come Too Far: Despite seeing the chaos that the war had caused, and seeing that the AIs controlling the drones were smarter than what they let on, he went and uploaded Mihalys flight data into the drone factory underneath the Lighthouse anyway, because the project was nearing its completion. He only stops when Ionela destroys the data chip and calls him out how pointless is his desire to avenge his homeland of Belka.
- Lack of Empathy: He shows little concern for Mihalys well being at first, and is more focused on collecting the data from each sortie. He starts having doubts about his work as the war continues, especially when he notices Mihaly's granddaughters beginning to resent him for putting Mihaly through the constant stresses of aerial combat. He eventually has a change of heart when Ionela destroys the data chip containing the flight data and gives him a scathing speech about the futility of the war and the consequences it has on its victims.
- Mad Scientist: He spends the majority of the story silently collecting Mihaly's flight data in order to help Erusea gain the upper hand with superior drones, though he starts having second thoughts once he notices Mihaly's granddaughters glaring at him for putting their grandfather through harsh aerial combat situations (even though Mihaly himself isn't averse to it). In truth, he confessed that he was born Belkan and was raised with the idea that the fallen nation could get its revenge by breeding wars, and as such inflitrated Erusea to develop advanced war machines. But as the Lighthouse War dragged on, he realizes to his horror that despite promising Mihaly's granddaughters that everything he made Mihaly sacrifice for would help end the war, it only caused more chaos and despair. In the end, he chooses to let go of his country's desire for revenge after Ionela calls him out on it. He then helps in stopping the drones Hugin and Munin from broadcasting their data to the rest of the Erusean drones which if not stopped would initiate a Robot War."We were responsible for all this damage... all this tragedy. Now, we were going to pay for it. [...] I should've stopped then... for all our sakes."
- The Reveal: He's actually a Belkan who, like the Grey Men before him, believed in a revanchist Belkan nationalist ideology to take revenge on the world after their country fell in the Belkan War, and tries to do this by using Erusea's drone army as a tool to this end. But unlike the Grey Men, Schroeder grows a conscience.
Ionela and Alma Shilage
Mihaly's two granddaughters who often accompany him and help support his failing body after each sortie. The older one is named Ionela and the younger one is named Alma, and are 15 and 10 years old respectively.
- Ambiguously Absent Parent: Their parents are never seen in the game (and it is mentioned that their mother is dead). Judging from their great attachment with their grandfather, it's implied that Mihaly is the one who raised them.
- Companion Cube: Alma is almost always seen holding a stuffed teddy bear.
- Cool Big Sis: Ionela acts as one for Alma, always taking care of her and making sure she stays out of harm's way. She, in turn, sees one in Princess Cossette.
- Doesn't Trust Those Guys: Ionela shows a great distrust in Dr. Schroeder, clearly angry at him for putting her grandfather through painful experiments and combat sorties just so that he can gather flight data. It comes to a head when she learns that Schroeder plans to upload the data into the drone army to cause further chaos instead of ending it. She immediately grabs a pistol from a nearby Osean soldier and shoots the data chip (and several computer circuit boards) to pieces.
- Rage Breaking Point: Ionela never trusted Dr. Schroeder from the get go, and had grown to resent him for putting her grandfather through increasingly risky sorties. Her resentment finaly reaches its breaking point when she finds out that Dr. Schroeder had been using her grandfather to collect data for the drone army to get revenge on Osea for the fall of Belka, by grabbing a nearby soldiers gun, and shooting the data chip containing Mihalys Flight Data before it can be fully uploaded into the drone factory.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After destroying the data chip, Ionela gives Schroeder a scathing speech over his inability to let go of Belkas defeat, pointing out that she also lost her homeland but that unlike Schroeder, she put that behind her rather than be consumed by revenge. This causes Schroeder to realize how much chaos his work has caused to the Usean continent and that his desire for revenge on Osea will not restore Belkas former glory, convincing him to help shut down the drones production and the end the war.Ionela: Is this for Belka? Or for Erusea? My grandfather had only one wish. To continue soaring through the endless skies. That was the only place he felt alive. But I dont even have a country to call home, let alone the sky. The Black Forest, the lake...they are no longer mine. Even though those lands were cherished by my late mother. We have to learn to put that sense of nostalgia behind us, and behave like mature adults.
Hugin and Munin
Two super UAVs that were developed using Mihalys flight data gathered by Dr. Schroeder during the Lighthouse War. They appear at the end of the war and attempt to seize control of the ISEV in order to use it to relay their combat data to drone factories across the Usean continent, potentially perpetuating the war.
- Artificial Intelligence: Dr. Schroeder intended them to be autonomous and self-thinking, but they grew beyond his expectations and instead plan on transferring their data to various automated UAV factories across Erusea and the world, which would perpetuate the war.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: When they arrive at the Lighthouse, they attack both Osean and Erusean forces alike, then lie in wait for the moment the space elevator powers itself up again so they can us its wide-array broadcasting to transmit their flight data to other UAV factories. Had they succeeded, drones with the combat experience of top aces would've been automatically mass produced, resulting in a constant Robot War.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The drones aren't evil per se; they simply want to win the Lighthouse War, essentially acting as an extension to the will of Erusean radicals who gave them their orders. They attack anyone who might prevent them from completing their strategic objectives (ensure data transmission so they can produce more super-drones), and with Erusea's civil war and the defeat of the Erusean radical faction, their target basically became everybody else.
- Cool Plane: They don't just pilot two superplanes, they are the superplanes; the ADF-11F RAVEN, a combination of the advanced UCAV ADF-11 and the RAW-F body it lodges itself into, is the successor to the ADF-01 FALKEN and the latest iteration of the Advanced Dominance Fighter series of aircraft, sharing the FALKEN's twin bulky engines, angular body and cameras replacing the conventional see-through canopy. The main difference is that its wings aren't forward-swept, instead being backward-swept with canted wingtips, and it lacks the FALKEN's vertical tails, a trait it instead shares with its prototype, the ADFX-10 that you shot down at Burgudarest, and its core ADF-11.
- Disposable Vehicle Section: They are actually two planes in one. There is a larger bodied section, similar to that of the ADF-01 FALKEN which has high thrust and can carry a generous payload, but should that be compromised or prove unnecessary, the cockpit and cannon section detaches, four small lifting/control surfaces extend, and a small secondary jet engine boosts it away. Thanks to its low mass and the high-G tolerances of solid state electronics, this secondary craft is capable of extreme maneuverability.
- Divide and Conquer: In the second stage of the final mission, one of them stays behind to fight and record Trigger, while the first one shot down in its ADF-11F form flies into the underground tunnel to transmit the data they collected on him in its ADF-11 form.
- Dual Boss: Hugin and Munin are fought at the same time. When you damage one of them, they deploy smaller Weapon UAVs that can shoot down missiles with their laser.
- Final Boss: They are the last enemies of the game, and aside from each deploying two smaller drones, are fought in a Boss-Only Level, as is tradition for Ace Combat final bosses.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: Their crafts are based on the ADF line of superplanes with their distinctive Tactical Laser System. Even their WEAPON UAVs they detached from their main bodies also possessed the TLS of their own as well. They also have a pulse-laser cannon as their gun instead of a conventional ballistic autocannon.
- Gone Horribly Right: Dr. Schroeder had used Mihalys flight data to make them more efficient fighters. They not only became incredibly dangerous fighters, they also became dangerously self aware to the point that they're planning to mass produce themselves by transmitting their flight data to other UAV manufacturing facilities in a Skynet-like fashion.
- Hero Killer: They shoot down Wit and many other members of the coalition forces trying to bring an end to the war during the final battle. Long Caster is appalled at the staggering speed they take to down several pilots, and Wit can only commend them for their perfect movements mirroring Mihaly's before he is killed.
- It Can Think: They prove to be much smarter than Dr. Schroeder anticipated. For example, when they dogfight against Trigger, they record his flight maneuvering, and try to trasmit the data that they collect on him to UAV factories all over Usea. The surviving drone flees into the tunnels under the Space Elevator and hacks the doors to prevent Trigger from following. When Trigger follows anyways, it actually stages an ambush within the tunnels that could have spelled major trouble for Trigger if Count hadn't been there to tank the shots.
- Lightning Bruiser: Not only are the RAVEN they pilot larger than most playable aircraft, they are unbelievably fast and maneuverable, and they're incredibly resilient to missiles compared to other air targets encoutered in the game, taking at least 5 missiles to down. It's a different story when they shed their RAW-F body and fight in their original ADF-11 form, gaining insane agility on par with the ADFX-10 encountered in Burgudarest but becoming easy pickings with just two missiles.
- Meaningful Name: Their names are are Nordic for thought and memory, and there are two meanings behind their names:
- The first meaning behind their names, involves their creation through Mihalys flight and neurological data. In order words, they were created through his thoughts and memories.
- The second meaning behind their names, comes from Norse Mythology. Odin had two ravens named Huginn and Muninn, whose mission was to fly around Midgard to gather information and deliver it to him. Which was what they plan on doing with Trigger: gather information on him, and deliver it to UAV factories. Likewise, the aircraft that they pilot are called ADF-11F RAVENs.
- One-Man Army: Well, actually two drones army. The two of them singlehandlely shoot down whole squadrons of fighters of the Osean and Erusean Coalition's air force and are in the process of carrying out their plan to take over the world. Even Trigger can't fight them alone, he has to be supported by whatever allies he has left in order to defeat those two beasts.
- Predecessor Villain: They serve as one for Nemo, and in turn, have one in Zone of Endless, whose emblem can be seen on their prototype.
- Robo Speak: The drones "speak" in a sense; during the dogfight and during the final tunnel chase, what sounds like irregular radio interference can be heard over the radio at times (notably before the gates of the tunnel closes), which Count comments on. These are implied to be the sounds of the drones communicating to each other and the ISEV's gate control system to shut off the gates.
- Promoted to Playable: The aircraft they pilot, the ADF-11F RAVEN, becomes available to players who have purchased the first DLC pack or the Season Pass, complete with the arsenal that they boast in the final mission. This is a marked difference from their predecessor Z.O.E. AI in Ace Combat 2 (as well as its remake), which piloted an unique ADF-01 that was unobtainable save for an appearance in the now-defunct spinoff Ace Combat Infinity.
- Robot War: They attempt to start one by using the Lighthouse to send their data to drone factories around the world to crank out hundreds, or even thousands of drones identical to themselves.
- Shed Armor, Gain Speed: Once you shoot down the second RAVEN, its core ADF-11 will detach itself from the ruined craft and continue fighting with the insane agility of the experimental ADFX-10. In exchange, it can only damage you with machine gun fire, and two direct missile hits will bring it down. The same goes for the first drone that was thought to be shot down, revealing itself to have also shed the ADF-11F shell and flying blazingly fast through the Lighthouse's underwater tunnel in a bid to transmit its data to the comm relay.
- Shoot the Bullet: Good luck trying to hit them with missiles when their weapon UAVs are deployed, as theyll simply vaporize them with their lasers.
- Superior Successor: They're even more advanced derivatives of the Zone of Endless project from Ace Combat 2 and its Video Game Remake, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy , possessing if not true Artificial Intelligence, at least something much closer to it than their predecessor that was tested during the Usean coup d'etat.
- Super Prototype: Not only do they use aircraft that are far more advanced than anything that has come before, theyre also incredibly intelligent AIs.
- Walking Spoiler: Dr. Schroeder only makes light of their existence by the final act, mentioning that he was only able to upload Mihaly's complete flight data into two experimental drones before Ionela destroys the data chip. From then on, he reveals that they're much more of a threat than anticipated due to their self awareness and subsequent plan for automated mass production, something which comes to a head when they show up at the end of the story and attempt to enact their plan, setting them up as the final antagonists of Skies Unknown.