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Headscratchers / Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

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  • How exactly does shipping containers with MQ-99s in them to Osea, then launching them to strike naval bases cripple Osea's naval response and their fleet? First off, either inspection policies in Osea are insanely lax, or Erusea somehow snuck UAVs through customs with no problem. Secondly, said UAVs being able to totally cripple Osea's naval capability by striking four naval bases is stretching belief a bit.
    • You don't need to enter the harbors with the drones, you just need to get the drones within range to make the attacks. Also, the drones attack more than just 4 ports, they attack what looks like 7 in the news broadcast, and then attack multiple staging areas at the same time. As for how such a small attack can cripple the Osean Navy so easily, it's simple: They attacked the fuel storage facilities with missiles/rockets/bombs, and than had the drones slam into ships or drydocks. Even if the ships were only damaged, they'd still need months of repair work before they can put to sea again, which is time Erusia can use to launch their land war, and take vast swaths of territory before the IUN can mount a response.
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    • Also from what we see, the drones were still on the ships at the times; I don't know much about customs, but I'd expect the towering stacks of container ships to be inspected on being unloaded, not when the ship has pulled into harbor. Frankly, Erusea is only lucky that they really didn't kill any innocent civilians; smuggling military hardware into a country, ESPECIALLY a country you're still officially neutral with, is a full-pelt war crime (unless the cargo ships suddenly raised Erusean flags to declare their allegiance). Only a legitimate 'clean' first strike would have allowed Erusea to maintain the moral high ground.
    • Additionally, considering the Grunder logos seen on a good number of the containers, it's not far-fetched to suggest that the radicals' hand from the Belkans came in more ways than one, allowing them to use the company's assets and logistics to help stage the attack.

  • Who thought that giving prisoners access to fighter jets was a good idea, especially since some of them rebelled after the satellites were knocked out? Cheap planes like MiG-21 Fishbeds, sure, but some have F/A-18F Super Hornets and Su-33 Flanker-Ds!
    • It's implied that the prisoner jets are just scrapped planes repaired by the Scrap Queen so that they can be used, so the better planes the prisoners got their hands on are probably just abandoned old planes that were left to rust there in the first place. The base's purpose was to distract the Eruseans, so they didn't have any 'real' planes there, so the scrap metals - some of which happened to be high-tier fighters - are given to the prisoners. Plus in the first mission, the base commander didn't plan on letting the prisoners fight back against the enemy at all, only to fool them, so the weapons are disabled. It's only when the base is really getting threatened that the AWACS let them fight back. For other missions, the command didn't expect any of them to survive at all, but some of them happened to be good enough or lucky enough to survive. When the lights go out, the rest is history.
      • You're still giving them a single Armor Piercing Round weighing in at 10 tons, with a speed on impact of somewhere in the ballpark of mach 2+: that is to say, the plane itself. You're already sending them on a suicide mission, what's to stop them from just deciding to take a different mission, so to speak? Even the third Reich realized it was a bad idea when they briefly considered building piloted V-1's guided by prisoners, before coming to the notion that the base they took off from would present a much more tempting target. I have to doubt the good character of any high brass that would allow convicts to be given military grade fighter bombers. We've seen in real life the damage someone with a death wish can do with a civilian aircraft, giving known offenders these sorts of toys is placing far too much trust on their own desire to live. One of them got thrown in a penal unit for throwing a rock, for crying out loud.
      • I guess it can be chalked up to the base commander's incompetence: Colonel McKinsey isn't the brightest officer in the air force, and he definitely doesn't care what happens to the prisoners except taking credit from their achievements, so he probably doesn't take into account of what could happen in the prisoners turned on him, plus it seems most of the prisoners - as sociopathic as they be - have no wish to die, so they don't sortie with the intention of suicide-bombing the colonel.
      • The overall foolishness of equipping penal units becomes a plot point after both Osean and Erusean satellites are taken down. Trigger, Count, and the rest of the 444th seemed to be the exception rather than the rule when it came to prisoner loyalty. Elsewhere, with command in tatters and everyone's IFF on the fritz, plenty of Osean penal units do attack their handling officers and any other allies (albeit offscreen), and it's one of the reasons the Tyler Island offensive collapsed into anarchy.
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    • Another question: McKinsey repeatedly reminds Spare Squadron that anyone who tries to flee will be shot down. Which begs the question: how does he plan to make good on that threat?!
      • There are barrier troops, in the form of regular air force units. If any Spare planes fled, the Colonel would pay a phone call to a regular unit commander and have the regulars kill the deserting planes. If there had been any bombs on board the Spare planes, there would be no need to allow the prisoners to live after missions were done.
  • Full Band gets killed and everyone says Bandog tagged him as an enemy because the former pissed him off. Okay, so how does the hacking get Full Band killed? The conversation transcript seemed to imply that Full Band was blackmailing Bandog. And if you put two and two together, blackmailing your AWACS guy in the middle of a mission is a good way to get killed by a friendly.
    • It's still Friendly Fire, and using someone else to do the dirty job, making him live with the guilt of killing his friend as well. AWACS is supposed to be someone the pilots put their trust and their very survival on. If even the AWACS is gunning for them, then who are they supposed to rely on? Sure, Full Band might deserve it, but if Bandog is really behind it then he isn't that much better than the convicts he looked down upon.
    • Let's don't be quick to shoot the guard dog just yet. We don't even know what Full Band was doing with the stolen information. For all we know, Full Band might have been selling that information to the Strangereal equivalent of Wiki-Leaks (or, heaven forbid, he could have been selling that intelligence to Erusea)!
      • Bear in mind that espionage and hacking lead directly to Harling's death. It also heavily jeopardized the Stonehenge mission, when Erusean agents disabled the recon unit. On top of that, the planes themselves were hand-fixed by fellow prisoners - we know Count installed a commercial radio receiver on his plane - so maybe even letting him land could have leaked precious info. Not to mention these people were already in prison, sometimes even solitary. Further punishment options were limited.
    • Bandog wanting Full Band eliminated is undeniably confirmed; when everyone forms up around Trigger to ensure their IFF is updated, Bandog specifically asks for Full Bands location in reference to everyone. It's then implied that he updates only Count's IFF with a malicious update that marked Full Band as an enemy. Trigger's IFF still listed Full Band as an ally, proving Bandog's culpability.
  • What exactly did the Eruseans gain in assassinating Harling?
    • Personally, I don't think the "actual" Eruseans are behind it. Maybe it was the Belkans seeking revenge for Harling foiling their plan in Ace Combat 5. They did develop the advanced AI and IFF-hacking technology that the Eruseans used after all.
    • While it's highly likely that Belkans pushed for the move, it would be easy to justify to the Erusean military. Erusea wanted to keep their Villain With Good Reputation intact, since the Space Elevator supposedly exploiting Usea for selfish gain was the stated casus belli of the war, followed by a propaganda campaign to cast Oseans as destructive, imperialistic warmongers. Having Harling alive would complicate their claim to moral superiority very quickly. He is resolute in his mindset that the Lighthouse is for the world's benefit, not just Osea, and his reputation as a peacemaker eclipses Princess Cosette's fame by a huge margin. It's probable that Harling could have forced peace negotiations and turned worldwide opinion away from Erusea's narrative, both of which would hurt Erusea's war effort. Yet, blatantly murdering the world's greatest advocate for peace would cast doubt on Erusea's moral high ground, but if his untimely demise came at the hands of Osea's trigger-happy militarism, it would hurt Osea's international reputation while simultaneously strengthening Erusea's.
Wasn't charging Trigger with assassinating Harling kind of pushing it? Sure the incident could be consider a major lapse in judgement, grounds for a discharge, but assassination? Surly some lawyer would be able to make a defense that in the heat of battle and Mother Goose 1 being swarmed with enemy fighters it was an accident.
  • Hang on, hang on, you're forgetting what a prosecutor would claim. Missiles that target enemy planes should, in theory, deactivate if they accidentally impact (and get buried in) friendly planes. Remember, air-to-air missiles do not have impact fuses but proximity fuses that cause the missiles to detonate within a particular distance of their intended victims! If the missile exploded after hitting Mother Goose 1, that would mean the user of said missile intended to kill the former president!! That's the claim of a military prosecutor.
    • Unless it was specifically mentioned somewhere that in Strangereal missiles are that smart, then we will have to assume that Infrared Missiles are at current levels of advancement, meaning that they cannot distinguish between heat signatures, and will simply chase the nearest infrared source. If anything, judging by how there seem to be... hints that the Osean military is not entirely pristine, it seems more likely that they just needed a scapegoat for failing to rescue an almost universally beloved president (sans the Scrap Queen and the Grey Men, of course, but you can't please everyone). Harling was essentially Strangereal's JFK and Lincoln combined, so they needed SOMEONE that had a face that could have the sins pinned on them.
  • How did the Scrap Queen wind up at the base after she was arrested? She should have been sent to a civilian prison once she had been identified as a civilian.
    • And then there is the fact that she got sent into a Combat Zone. She pointed out in a cutscene that she wasn't a soldier so therefore she should have been sent to a Civilian Prison instead. Not even being an exceptional Mechanic should have allowed that.
      • Hold your horses. We don't know if Avril was even given permission to refurbish mothballed military aircraft before she got arrested. Just because she was able to do so was not proof that she had authorization! And since her plane didn't have registration, we now have a recipe for disaster! And why send Avril to Tyler Island? Let's suppose we deprive Spare Squadron of its best mechanic just to satisfy the lawyers. How are you going to get her to the Osean mainland without having to contend with killer drones, as the drones are set to kill any plane not designated as Erusean property?
      • The accepted canon in the Ace Combat Wiki is that Avril was fired upon by Osean aircraft in the first place because her F-104, with its stubby wings, slim airframe, and lack of radio/IFF made it look superficially like the Erusian drones the Oseans were already chasing. So, technically the Osean plane fired upon a noncombatant, which is a war crime in and of itself, even if it was a case of mistaken identity. Given that Osea was in the process of sinking knee-deep into a political shitstorm what with their attack on Farbanti going on, Avril's little incident would be a very inconvenient mark on an already growing tally. So it is decided that they'll arrest Avril on a technicality, and ship her off to the ass end of nowhere where she can either wait out the war or at the very least die as a decoy. Kind of a dark side of Osea if you ask me, but then again the game seems to make it clear that Osea's penal system is...not exactly the epitome of sunshine and rainbows.
  • How in the bloody blue Hell did Rosa survive a missile to the freaking face? The cutscene even showed her helmet falling from the sky as if to punctuate the point that she was blown to smithereens. And don't even get started on the fall.
    • Plot Armor in full play here, perhaps. There's a lot of character deaths in the game already, so killing Princess Rosa as well would have been pushing it. Plus we never actually saw her getting caught in the explosion. The camera deliberately cuts to a faraway shot when the missile hits the space elevator. If we go by the events, first, either Hugin or Munin fires the missile at Count. Count, who sees Rosa jumping down, swerves off his plane in order to avoid her and evade the missile. The missile misses and probably hits somewhere just below where Rosa is supposed to fall through, so we can assume the explosion happened somewhere below her at a considerable far enough distance so she wasn't caught in it. If that was indeed her helmet, then the explosion did rock her a bit, but she recovers in mid-air in time to deploy the secondary parachute. She seems to have fallen low enough to the Earth that it doesn’t require a breathing helmet, probably. I know, it’s kinda outlandish, but then again, Plot Armor.
    • The cutscenes prior to the two last missions confirm the AI was watching the conversation in the drone factory - thus making it possible the AI was aware the princess would be an existential threat to them. This doesn't explain her survival, but it's possible she was aware she would be targeted - maybe she threw off an empty suit, or took another precaution?
    • This missile hit Count, not her. Immediately after the explosion, Count's plane is shown to be damaged suggesting he took the shot in a non-critical area (Mihaly even mentions this tactic in an earlier mission should you take a hit from him). The scene implies that Hugin and Munin recognized Rosa (The Slow-Motion Pass-By, followed by the static grating that suggests the drones were 'talking' to each other). It's possible she was the intended target from the beginning, but Count intercepted them and took the missile instead.
  • Where are the women in the 444th Squadron? It's clear the Osean Air Force isn't gender restricted and sure, it'd make sense to keep genders separated in a pseudo military prison, but then what's Avril doing there? Is there an Series/Orangeisthenewblack squadron we never hear about for some reason?
    • For all we know, there have been. But given the purpose of this unit... well... let's just say that death doesn't care about gender, and leave it at that...
  • Everyone forgot there were astronauts in space that needed the space elevator to get back to Earth? Sure the continental war is a great big distraction but still?
    • One of the IUPF pilots actually expresses concern about the astronauts in the 4th mission if you listen carefully, but he's dismissed since the astronauts "aren't ours." (Meaning the IUPF pilots in the conversation were from Usea, and the astronauts are Osean). So apparently no one forgot, but they're just giant dicks who didn't care anyways.
  • How did Erusea maintain the moral high ground despite the fact that, from the moment they started the war, they committed two real-life warcrimes; first, smuggling military hardware, disguised as civilian equipment, into a country that you are (still) officially neutral with, only to launch surprise strikes when you do officially declare war- say what you will about Osea's inspection protocols being potentially lax but from what it looks like all they did was sail container ships full of drones into Osean ports, not unload them yet, then launch them right off the decks. Second, forging IFF data is basically tantamount to putting a gun to someone's head without telling them that it's a gun, or them realizing it's a gun. It's implied that these are viewed as acceptable because no civilians were harmed, compared to the blundering Oseans who accidentally bomb the wrong part of Farbanti, but in both these cases these are moves strictly with the intent of deception against unsuspecting foes.
    • There is a loophole here. If the container ships suddenly raised Erusean military flags, they'd be declaring their true nature and thus would no longer be counted as terrorist vessels. This revealing of true colors is a real life requirement for any armed merchantman playing tricks on enemy ships (especially if the job involves interdiction against unrestricted submarines that indiscriminately sink anything that does not belong to their country). Before shooting, they must discard any false colors and show their true nationality.
    • And about the fake IFF, not all Eruseans are happy about it. As it turns out, there are Belkan soldiers and officers serving in the Erusean military. Perhaps the conservative Erusean units refused to use false identification signals, thus placing the hardware into the hands of radicals and ethnic Belkans. So, in a way, Belka did it, not Erusea as a whole.
  • Going further back, the fact that Osea managed to restore the 8th Stonehenge railgun shows that ISAF was kinda careless in their Stonehenge raid. Sure the cannon wasn't a threat at that time due to being disabled by an asteroid, but Erusea could have revived it too during the Continental War, haunting ISAF once again. Of course, it was a good thing ISAF spared it, else Osea wouldn't destroy an Arsenal Bird, but the fact remains that it had the potential to be fired again.
    • ISAF occupied the Stonehenge facility within a couple of months of Operation Stone Crusher, so it’s likely the Eruseans didn’t have enough time to restore the 8th railgun before ISAF could arrive and possibly use it against their forces. Plus at that point, the Eruseans had already begun diverting resources towards completing Megalith’s construction.
  • Speaking of Stonehenge, it seems very odd that Erusea decided to destroy it with Arsenal Bird. Why not tell the secret agents to blow up the generator trucks rather than kill the survey team? It is very strange that the agents just killed the survey team and then practically did nothing afterwards.
    • Since they're secret agents, one can presume they've infiltrated within the Osean survey team and are in disguise, they likely only have compact pistols on them and aren't carrying any weapons capable of destroying the trucks.
    • Why not just hijack a vehicle and ram it into a generator truck?
    • It's very likely that since they had infiltrated the survey team, the Erusean agents were nowhere near the actual gun or the generators, so their only option was to take out the survey team to blind them.
  • Why didn't the Eruseans do anything about the Admiral Andersen carrier? It was grounded near the space elevator since near the start of the war and packed with aircraft to deliver to Osean bases. It could've been real handy to capture that asset.
    • A hypothetical Erusean salvage party raiding the Admiral Andersen might set off a boobytrap, such as a tripwire mine in conjunction with improvised fuel-air bombs. The Eruseans likely asked themselves why Osea would abandon a perfectly good aircraft carrier on a reef, and came up with the conclusion that it was a dirty trick just to kill them out of spite. Abandoned ships are usually not worth sinking either, as drone operators are told to prioritize taking out active combatants first. After all, no Oseans came to save the ship!
    • Erusea's fleet is nowhere near the size of Osea's, with the majority of their ships being stationed at Farbanti or Usea's east coast. Notice that in the IUN's first attack on the Lighthouse, no Erusean naval ships are seen at all. It seems they banked all of their security on the Arsenal Birds.

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