Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Our favorite aircrafts from the Ace Combat series

June 30th, 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Ace Combat franchise ever since the first Ace Combat game went on sale for the original Sony PlayStation in 1995. To commemorate such occasion, and for nostalgia's sake, why not jot down the best aircrafts, both real and fictional, from the world's number one flight shooting game whose copies sold worldwide are as infinite as the ribbon insignia. It really doesn't matter which of the aircraft featured in the series is the best because every fan of Ace Combat knows, they're all agree with their favorite fighter jets, well, except for the Nosferatu.

1) F-22A Raptor - Known as the pride of the US Air Force, this 5th generation stealth fighter has a wide reputation for being a premier air-superiority fighter thanks to its cutting-edge technologies that can adapt through numerous missions including recon missions, air-to-air attack (which the Raptor shines), air-to-ground combat (which is nearly impossible for this fighter), and best of all, it remains operational today despite the completion of its fleet. Even though its well known for protecting the US homeland and ready for global deployment, the Raptor enjoyed its time with the gamers as one of the best Ace Combat aircraft for the goodie. Yes, we've seen Raptors having their shot at fame as hero planes of the franchise and no matter how much the game has evolved, the Raptor is always here to stay as the ultimate good guy's plane. Better still, out favorite Raptor in the series is the one that bears the unforgettable ribbon insignia (in short; the F-22A -Mobius1- from Shattered Skies).

2) F-15C Eagle - The F-15C is an all-weather, large scale fighter that boasts a phenomenal maximum speed and has a plethora of ordnance loaded on board. It is said that it holds the record for recovering after losing a wing in battle (much to the case of Solo Wing Pixy's past according to the assault record from AC-ZERO). Pixy aside, the F-15C had became the demonic choice as the hero plane in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, and if you had a memory of bearing the Cipher codename, this demon of a plane is the one you'll remember, the demon that crushed the knights of the Round Table in the war. Little did you know that former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson once rode an F-15 in one of his shows called Extreme Machines several years ago and he vomited in the end.

3) F-14A Tomcat/F-14D Super Tomcat - We all remember this plane from the Top Gun movie but Top Gun aside, this carrier-based fighter was once the pride of the US Navy before it was replaced by the can-do-all F/A-18. The Tomcat's party piece is its variable wings that can change its angles automatically when approaching high speeds. The Super Tomcat, on the other hand, is an updated version featuring a new onboard radar and engine. As a goodie plane, the F-14 fared well despite its age and specs, but the F-14 Ace Combat fans mostly remembered for is the F-14A -Razgriz- from The Unsung War.

4) Su-37 Terminator - Ace Combat players can have any Flanker plane they like including the Su-27, Su-33, and Su-35, but their favorite of the Flanker-type planes is a prototype Flanker called the Su-37 Terminator. No. Not the Arnold Schwarzenegger kind of Terminator, the Su-37 kind of Terminator. Of course, the Terminator had some appearances in the world of Ace Combat. First, there's Rena Hirose's Terminator in AC3, the Gelb team from AC-ZERO, Varcolac Squadron's Kiriakov's from Joint Assault, and most famously, the Yellow Squadron's from AC04 Shattered Skies. Actually, it's the one with the number 13 that got us into guilty pleasures. We're referring to the Su-37 -Yellow13-, our kind of baddie plane. So, what's it all about this Terminator? This concept Flanker features a 2DCD thrust-vectoring nozzles, making it the most maneuverable of the Flanker planes. In 1996, it performed the highly-impossible Kulbit maneuver at an air show, causing much rave from the audiences.

5) Su-33 Flanker-D - The Su-33 is Russia's answer to America's F-14 Tomcat or the F/A-18 Super Hornet because like these two, it's a carrier-based derivative of the Su-27. It may be slower than any other craft of the same generation but it has the best handling capabilities. The Flanker-D looks good when in motion but its style can be easily spoiled when its main and tail wings folded up to accommodate the storage space available on an aircraft carrier. Despite having a horrible mechanism involving the folding of its wings, the Su-33 Flanker-D is still worthy of being a baddie plane and the baddie plane fans remembered for is the Su-33 -Strigon- from AC6.

6) Typhoon - Known to be the most modern strike fighter developed through a joint cooperation between the European nations of UK, Germany, Spain, and Italy, the Eurofighter Typhoon features engines that can push up to 20,000 lbs of thrust each, sending the Typhoon up to 65,000 feet and a speed of over 1,500mph. It's designed to be as agile as possible in an aerial dogfight and it requires over 70 computers to keep it airborne and if one computer fails, the Typhoon falls. It's all about brains and brawns, like for instance, its slim-looking wings is capable enough to sustain high-speed G-turns. Little did you know that a certain episode of Top Gear features a race between the Typhoon and a Bugatti Veyron, with Richard Hammond behind the wheel.

7) F/A-18F/E Super Hornet - This all-weather, carrier-based, multirole fighter jet became the pinnacle of America's Navy when the F-14 Tomcat was decommissioned. It maybe not as fast as the Tomcat, but its air-to-air combat and air-to-ground combat abilities made the Super Hornet a fighter plane that can do most of the tasks during missions. As of now, the boffins from aircraft manufacturer Boeing providing the Super Hornet an array of upgrades such as fuel tanks, enclosed weapons pod, enhanced engine, and a reduced radar signature.

8) JAS-39C (Gripen C) - Made by Saab, the Gripen is a true multirole fighter that can adapt through numerous missions ranging from air superiority, air strikes, recon missions, and so on. Thanks to its short size, the Gripen can be launched from the tunnels that some air forces used it as their makeshift airbases. Aside from its netcentric warfare capabilities and combat performance, it's very cost-effective, allowing some budget-focused air forces to procure one over a long term.

9) MiG-31 Foxhound - The Foxhound is the first ever 4th generation aircraft made by the former Soviet Union and it's essentially an updated version of the MiG-25. Despite having a boxy appearance, it's capable of supersonic flight even at low altitudes and with its high engine thrust, its top speed is close to Mach 3. Baddie plane, aside, the Foxhound is well-known for pursuing enemies even from behind, and if it was outfitted in Schwarze's clothing from AC-ZERO, the Foxhound is the boxy aircraft to strike fear at its foes, making the hunters become the hunted.

10) F-16C Fighting Falcon - With over 4,000 units made, this lightweight, easy-to-handle fighter was adopted by numerous air forces globally due to its low-cost and high power suitable to obtain air superiority. It may not be as powerful as the Raptor or the F35 but it's essentially tameable and lethal when equipped with special weaponry such as a 4-target air-to-air missile or a high-homing QAAM.

11) Rafale M - This carrier-based aircraft made by the French is the first omnirole combat aircraft with a delta-canard configuration designed to adapt through different missions such as air superiority and air strikes. It's versatile, flexible, and has higher chances to survive through numerous threats.

12) F-15E Strike Eagle - This version of the Eagle adds air-to-ground capabilities to the F-15C, making it capable to adapt through numerous missions thanks to its diverse array of weapons including our-ever favorite self-forging fragments which, when used properly, does more damage than the FAE bombs. Everyone believes that the Strike Eagle is a goodie plane because of its can-do-all capabilities that can save the day from enemy attacks, just as when the Garuda team from AC6 saved the Emmerian capital city Gracemeria from Estovakian tyranny.

13) A-10A Thunderbolt II - One of the best fighter-bombers in the world of Ace Combat when it comes to deal with air-to-ground combats, this heavily-armed attacker has the most devastating firepower and high survivability rate. It's so lethal, dropping one of its FAE bombs will blow you away like wildfire.

14) F-2A - At first glance, it looks like an F-16 but it is essentially developed through a joint collaboration between the US and Japan. The F-2 is one of the main fighter-bombers used by the JASDF and it's focused on air-to-ship attack capabilities. Despite being an anti-warship fighter bomber, it's still come in handy in times of air strikes.

15) F-15S/MTD - A concept aircraft based on the F-15, the S/MTD is developed to increase maneuverability and designed for short take-off and landing abilities. It may look like if this has sprouted with eight wings but this high-tech prototype features an electronic control system, 2DCD thrust-vectoring nozzle, and canard wings, making it more maneuverable and fast for a multirole aircraft. Don't think of the S/MTD as a goodie plane because if you refered to yourself as one of the so-called 8492nd squadron, chances are that you belong to a squadron that once caused tension and confusion between two superpowers. It's a baddie plane, all right, but the kind of F-15S/MTD baddie I've enjoyed is the one in the Sorcerer's colors from AC-ZERO because it came from a coup d'etat known as A World Without Boundaries.

16) Su-47 Berkut - Like the Su-37 Terminator, the Berkut is a prototype fighter plane with forward pointing wings that provide better aerodynamics, making the most maneuverable of the real-world prototype aircrafts. This plane causes so much misery to its opponents because when every time they got shot down by those, they might think that the Berkut is an omen of misfortune for the opposition, that's why it's considered as a baddie plane much to the case of AC5's Belkan Grabacr fighter squadron and AC-ZERO's Gault team. Come to think of it, the Gault team's leader is somewhat more of a half-monk, half-hitman, I think.

17) F-35 Lightning II - Fans love the F35 in Ace Combat because of its can-do all capabilities suitable to adapt through a variety of missions. Aside from its multirole and stealth abilities, the procurement cost is more manageable than the F-22A Raptor, which only works for air-to-air combat purposes. Its best version, the F-35B, features a short-takeoff/vertical landing capability.

18)  F-16XL - A concept fighter bomber based on the F-16 Fighting Falcon featuring a cranked-arrow delta wing and it carries the most weaponry among the F-16 range. It comes with improved stability in low speed ranges, and its air-to-ground abilities have enhanced. Some say that the Wizard team from AC-ZERO used the F-16XL as distractions to the players before getting lunged by the attacks from the YF-23 stealth fighters. If you remember this situation, looks like you've adopted a greater strategy to wipe them off from the Round Table before advancing to Avalon.

19) YF-23 Black Widow II - This prototype stealth fighter is a candidate from the Advanced Tactical Fighter program, with diamond shaped wings and a V-shaped tail.

20) T-50 PAK-FA - This prototype fighter aircraft is a vision of Russian Air Force's answer to America's F-22 Raptor. The codename PAK-FA refers to Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation and this concept fighter comes with the best handling capabilities of any stealth aircraft and boasting top-class aerial combat capabilities, making it the pinnacle of Russian air force technology. Because it's capable of using different types of weaponry, some might fear that the PAK-FA is capable enough to mount a miniature nuclear warhead that can wipe out a major city, just like the one used by the renegade pilot Andrei "Akula" Markov from Assault Horizon during the final battle at Washington D.C.

21) XFA-27 - Anyone who remembered playing Ace Combat 2 has high chances of remembering this secret unlockable aircraft. Known as the Unified Command's Last Hope, this top-secret aircraft features an all-moving tail, canards, and unique vectoring nozzles, capable of excellent maneuverability. It's made to become an aircraft with extreme performance.

22) ADF-01 FALKEN - This fictional aircraft also appeared on AC2 as a secret aircraft but in AC5, it's a different experience because the cockpit features an array of monitors arranged in a 360-degree sphere known as the COFFIN system. It may look like an alien spaceship from the future but this is the ultimate air-superiority fighter whose weapons include a super-cool laser that can zap through enemies with precision.

23) R-101 Delphinus 1 - The Delphinus 1 is one of the futuristic aircrafts you can unlock in AC3: Electrosphere. Made by Neucom, it's the first of the Delphinus series of aircraft forms the core of the R-numeral fleet.

24) X49 Night Raven - This is also one of the futuristic aircrafts you can unlock on AC3 and this is also the aircraft where UPEO's Rena Hirose went haywire, leaving GRDF's ace pilot Keith Bryan to sacrifice his life to put a stop to it. It comes with a box wing configuration, a new type of engine, and a powerful laser weapon. It was created from General Resource's Darkness of Enigma secret project to counter against Neucom's Delphinus aircrafts, according to one theory.

25) X-02 Wyvern - Served as the pinnacle of the Erusian military aviation technology, the Wyvern features special variable wings which adjust according to speed. Such extreme visual differences between the wing configurations has made people believe there are two kinds of aircraft but that's fine by us because this is one of the best of the Ace Combat original aircrafts since its status as an unlockable aircraft in AC04 Shattered Skies.

26) ADFX-01 Morgan - As the unlockable aircraft in AC-ZERO The Belkan War, the Morgan is the ultimate multirole aircraft that can be equipped with a laser and a signature multipurpose burst missile that not only wipes out large clusters of enemies, it blinds them like a flashbang. One theory states that Solo Wing Pixy used it in the final battle at Avalon, demonstrating the viability of various experimental technologies, meaning some extreme measures have been done by the player to counterattack against the Morgan.

27) Fenrir - One of the unlockable aircrafts in ACX Skies of Deception, this large-scale multirole aircraft secretly made by the Leasath air force delivers an unprecedented threat level against the opposition. The description states this features the same optical camouflage as the Gleipnir aerial base, but for the playable aircraft, it doesn't have one but it's lighter and more maneuverable. It even comes with its signature Long Range Shockwave Missile that can blow away long range targets at the cost of homing capabilities. Some who are lucky enough to unlock the Fenrir might say they can finish any mission faster than eating a cookie.

28) CFA-44 Nosferatu - The Nosferatu is the Estovakian Air Force's next-generation carrier-based fighter and an unlockable aircraft in AC6 Fires of Liberation, which remains one of the least-favorite Ace Combat game due to its XBOX 360 exclusivity. Love it or hate it, the Nosferatu is equipped with two signature weapons such as the All-Direction Multipurpose Missile and an Electromagnetic Launcher which has longer range and can be fired rapidly. When the Strigon Leader Pasternak sent his wingmen back to the base, he and the Nosferatu, along with a horde of UAVs, battled the Garuda team during the Liberation of Gracemeria, making it one of the trickiest boss fights ever happened in the game.

29) GAF-1 Varcolac - Appeared as an unlockable aircraft in AC Joint Assault, this bewildering prototype is a product of Olivieri's Golden Axe Plan provided to the Varcolac Squadron and appeared on the final battle in San Francisco against the heroic Antares Squadron.

30) ASF-X Shinden II - This fictional elite support fighter with variable front sloping wings and unique, vertically arranged double engines is a dream collaboration between Project Aces and Macross' mech designer Shoji Kawamori. When the producers asked Kawamori-sensei to create a dream aircraft inspired from the world of anime and the world of Ace Combat, this is the result and it became a DLC in AC Assault Horizon. The Shinden name came from an ancient World War II fighter, visualizing a modern take of a Japanese legend, while delivering a new taste for AC fans many. It even got featured in the Ikaros in the Sky novel as well.

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