The Legend of Razgriz. It's first mentioned in Ace Combat 5, and forms a key part of Wardog's transformation into the Demons of Razgriz. In fact, the legend states "when history witnesses a great change, Razgriz reveals itself, first as a dark demon. As a demon, it uses it's power to rain death upon the land, and then it dies. However, after a period of slumber, Razgriz returns, this time, as a great hero." There are two interpretations of this when it comes to the events of Ace Combat 5 and Zero:
One interpretation is that Cipher represents one part of the fable, and Wardog represents the latter half. Cipher is the "dark demon who rains death upon the land", which he certainly did during the Belkan War of 1995. During the entire conflict he was referred to as "Demon Lord of the Round Table"; Cipher was responsible for destroying Excalibur, the decimation of most of Belka's flying aces, the destruction of the XB-0 Hresvelgr airborne fortress and the destruction of the V2 mass-retaliation weapon that ultimately ended the conflict. Afterwards, he disappeared from the skies, never to be seen again. In essence, like the fable stated, he "died" after he used his power to rain death upon the land. When Wardog is branded as traitors 15 years later and is shot down, they begin operating as the "Demons of Razgriz". When they uncover the true nature of the war between Yuktobania and Osea, as well as a plot to use a Belkan V2 to devastate Oured, Razgriz bravely stops a last-ditch attack by an old superweapon over the Osean capital. They thus fulfilled the "returns as a great hero" part of the fable and then disappeared from the skies afterwards.
The second interpretation is that Cipher and Wardog both fully embody the Razgriz fable. Cipher because he rained death upon the Belkans during the eponymous war, which itself was a period of great change. After the nuclear detonations of June 6th (where his wingman Pixy betrayed him and possibly Cipher's zeal for war vanished, in essence "dying") he only undertook a few more "mop-up" operations until June 20th, upon which a peace treaty being signed led to him being inactive for six months (the "period of slumber"), Cipher resurfaced as a "great hero" and saved the world from the V2 missile. For Wardog, they too "rained death" upon the Yuktobanians during the Circum-Pacific War (again a period of great change), using their power to strike fear into their enemies. When they were betrayed by Belkan elements in the Osean government, they were forced to fake their deaths (the "dying") and resurfaced after a time as the Razgriz Squadron, ultimately being hailed as "great heroes".
Another interesting thing to note is both games reinforce the Razgriz parallel with the common threads of Belka being the aggressor, the V2 missile being the final threat, the fable of the Razgriz appearing in the lyrics of the final tracks in both games ("The Unsung War in Ace Combat 5 and "Zero" in Ace Combat Zero) and both final missions taking place on the same day 15 years apart ("Zero" is set on December 31st, 1995 and "The Unsung War" is set on the same day in 2010). Finally, both Cipher and Wardog disappeared after their final mission, never to be seen again.
Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War has a lot of demonic or hell overtones, what with "Galm" squadron (Garm), the 6th Air Division, 66th Air force Unit, and Cipher eventually being called the Demon Lord. There's one stage, a recreation of the firebombing of Dresden in World War II, where Cipher escorts bomber squadrons to destroy Belkan munitions in the city of Hoffnung. The bombers indiscriminately drop all over the city, prompting one enemy to say over the radio, "Abandon Hoffnung!" It's a Bilingual Bonus (hoffnung means "hope" in German) but I never noticed the reference to Dante's Inferno before: "abandon all hope ye who enter here." — Zephid
Speaking of demonic references: a few players thought that Ace Combat Zero's main theme, "Zero," was too derivative of its predecessor, "The Unsung War" (to the point of sharing the same lyrics describing the Razgriz legend, even though it is not mentioned once in the entire game). Other fans have tried to find a deeper meaning behind the song's composition, e.g. "Do the flamenco guitar motifs = Cipher originated from Sapin?" or "Did Cipher have a direct connection to Blaze and co.?" But the story of Galm Team resembles the Razgriz mythology more than Wardog Squadron ever did. At no period in Ace Combat 5 do you doubt the intentions of your character and your fellow wingmates; while your military allegiance changes and the last third of the game draws the warring nations into Grey and Gray Morality, your lionization as the manifestation of Razgriz is more an extension of Yuktobanian soldiers fearing your capabilities, plus a whiff of Belkan propaganda, than anything else. (Wardog was re-named Razgriz in an act of Appropriated Appellation.) In ACZ, despite which Ace Style you take, you start off as a nondescript mercenary - with the sole goal of destruction for personal advantage - and your buddy, Galm 2, is presented as a Memetic Badass instead. In other words, an Anti-Hero paired with the Famed In-Story. Mission 12 (where you witness Strangereal's Hiroshima and Nagasaki) is when Cipher and Solo Wing Pixy's character arcs are drastically altered. As the Allied Forces and Belka "squabble" over the material gains and losses of a potential peace treaty, every sortie the Demon Lord partakes from then on is to achieve a real end to the conflict behind the scenes, to prevent further death. When Cipher and Pixy meet for the final time, who is the hero and who is the demon? At the conclusion of Mission 18, the new Razgriz is slain by the former, and in a cyclical fashion (like a Möbius strip), begins to seek out his own redemption.
Indeed, the Razgriz poem (and A Blue Dove for the Princess) may be best understood as a psychological allegory - confronting one's inner demons - rather than a literal supernatural being.
And the Arthurian symbolism! Including an important one: When Pixy defects, he is frequently referred to in royal terms, such as "Cinderella" in Mission 12 by Wizard 1 and as Avalon's "Sleeping King" on Gault 1's epitaph. However, when Pixy ultimately appears, he flies the ADFX-02 Morgan, named after King Arthur's nemesis. If Pixy isn't the true 'king in the mountain,' then who is? Well, who pulled out "Tauberg's Sword"?
The fifth installment of the Ace Combat series has the main characters often say they feel like they're being used or sent to die as a sacrifice, and I always wondered in the back of my mind why in the hell they were saying that. And then it hit me: Because they are. The Belkans from the war fifteen years before Ace Combat 5 infiltrated the Osean and Yuktobanian militaries to the point where they were able to start the war between the two countries to begin with, and as the Wardog Squadron became heroes of war, they were often used for that agenda as well.
It might seem strange to be flying older planes that are either obsolete or retired by our standards (the F-14, in particular, despite being a Cool Plane is commonly pointed out as being out of service by the time several of the games take place.) However Osea, Yuktobania, Belka, ect do not have the start and end run times for their planes the countries they stand in for do, so the American side would not be out of place flying Cold War-era planes in 2010 since as far as this American side is concerned the plane has not been retired.
A Good Bad Bug in The Unsung War allows the first part of the final mission to be pathetically easy, literally a Game-Breaker. However the planes used in this mission are SU-47s (actually their prototypes, the S-32A) rather than the F-15s seen throughout the game, suggesting the ace pilots not had the time to become proficient in them, and thus easily killed by tactics that wouldn't have worked before.
Keep in mind too that, while they did fly Su-47's in heavy combat before, that was at least fifteen years ago. While they were taken in by Osea as an aggressor squadron afterwards, the restructuring of the Osean military into a defensive force probably meant they haven't been able to fly much at all, much less with the same equipment they were using back then. Compare that to a squad of much younger pilots who have been flying and honing their skills constantly for the past three months, not to mention training however long before war broke out.
Most of the superweapons in the games have notable weaknesses, due to said superweapons being press ganged in to roles they were not originally designed for or being due to shoddy/unproven in-universe design.
Stonehenge was designed to engage incoming asteroids, which tend to have predictable, steep trajectories and large masses. Its guns are slow to rotate as well, and cannot engage ground based targets or fire beyond 600 miles due to curvature of the Earth and gravity degradation of its projectiles, so a fighter jet once it gets in close can engage them at will. And yet, Ace Combat 7 shows that at least one Stonehene engineer was crazy or paranoid enough to put range tables on railguns the size of a small building.
Scinfaxi and Hrimfaxi both are huge submarine aircraft carriers, but generate large unique sonar signatures, making them easy to detect underwater. Submarines by their nature are designed to be stealthy, hanging back from the frontlines, and are not designed to be front-line assault vessels. Aircraft carriers are the same way; they lack little offensive capabilities once their fighters are launched, and rely on support vessels and distance to evade enemy retaliation. Scinfaxi and Hrimfaxi thus had the weaknesses of an aircraft carrier and a submarine, coupled with the inherent limitation of having to surface to launch their aircraft. Yuktobania tries to alleviate this by having a whole fleet escort the Scinfaxi and hiding the Hrimfaxi far away from the combat zones, releasing its drones only in self-defense; it almost works, failing only due to the Arkbird in the case of the former and having to surface to launch missiles in the latter.
Excalibur, like Stonehenge was not designed to engage aircraft; it was originally built to interdict ballistic missiles, which like asteroids have predictable, consistent trajectories. The laser it fires has no area of effect capability, meaning it can be easily avoided by flying left or right of where it is being aimed. The chemical laser design means a charge-up time is required before the beam fires, and long distance shots can suffer from atmospheric attenuation of the beam.
The SOLG is an orbital railgun, designed to attack targets from distances too high for enemies to reach it. Once it descends into the atmosphere, it is essentially defenseless.
The XB-0 Hresvelgr is an aerial fortress/aircraft carrier, one of the first built. The unproven technology means it is slow and difficult to maneuver, and suffers from fuel consumption issues and overreliance on escorts to defend themselves. It's successor, the P-1112, also suffer from consumption issues as it requires eight tanker planes to be fully refueled.
Your wingmen in story mission of Infinity are pretty casual for military personnel. The meteor has displaced a lot of populace and left damage on world's economy, leading refugees to find jobs in military industry. They might be people who have much less experience and training time compared to real-life soldiers, not to mention the sheer demand...
Vincent Harling's decision to, in 2020, declassify all data on the Belkan War as a way to educate the world about what caused the conflict and make sure it never happens again. Unfortunately, this will probably involve all data about A World With No Boundaries. And Grunder Industries and the Grey Men, shown to be still alive, kicking and willing to exact revenge on the world in Skies Unknown, might still have data about Project Pendragon superweapons such as Excalibur, Avalon and the V2 missiles. The Airborne Aircraft Carrier technology has been perfected by now (from the XB-0 to the P-1112 to the Arsenal Bird, with the UI-4053 coming next), laser weaponry is available in smaller forms (General Resource' satellites, X-49, XR-900) and Grunder Industries kept working on Zone of Endless, meaning they might have worked on upgrading the rest as well or helped the further development of the COFFIN interface (the Falken carries the first COFFIN cockpit). Skies Unknown shows that nearly all communication satellites get destroyed, weakening the governments all around the globe and causing various gone nations to declare independance. A perfect stage for violent anarchists inspired by AWWNB and revengeful nationalists to start new wars, backed by Grunder Industries new superweapons, weakening governements more and more until Neucom and General Resource come along to sweep everything... The final kicker? Skies Unknown is set in 2019, right before the data release. Ace Combat 7 finally closed the chapter of the Ulysses superweapons, but the Belkan War will still cause death and destruction in the future.