AWACS Thunderhead was the callsign of an AWACS of the Osean Air Defense Force during the Circum-Pacific War. As an AWACS, Thunderhead's primary role was providing tactical data analysis and logistical support to other OADF aircraft. For a majority of the war, Thunderhead was assigned to support the combat operations of the 108th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Wardog" (Wardog Squadron).
- "Wardog, you are not cleared to engage at this time!"
- ― AWACS Thunderhead
Thunderhead's first known mission with Wardog Squadron occurred on September 24 near Cape Landers. During the operation, Wardog was attacked by unknown fighters while attempting to force down a trespassing spy plane. Despite Thunderhead's direct orders for "weapons safe", Wardog's leader, Captain Jack Bartlett, ordered his wingmen to open fire on the hostiles, which were eventually shot down. Three days later, on September 27, Bartlett's flight once again violated Thunderhead's standing orders and shot down another group of hostile fighters.
Following the loss of Bartlett, Thunderhead placed Wardog 2 (Kei Nagase) in command of Wardog Squadron; although he angrily reminded her that she was violating direct orders, Nagase refused her promotion and gave it to Wardog 4, callsign "Blaze". Thunderhead's strict, by-the-book nature and occasional ineptitude also led to a contemptuous relationship with Wardog 3, Alvin H. Davenport, and Captain Marcus Snow, who considered him to be a "blockhead" and "pigheaded", respectively.
On September 30, Thunderhead coordinated the air forces that were assigned to escort the 3rd Osean Naval Fleet's three aircraft carriers through Eaglin Straits. Unfortunately, Thunderhead was unable to detect the first incoming Yuktobanian burst missile until it was directly over the Osean convoy. Thunderhead, who was a safe distance away from the detonations, survived the devastation and informed Wardog that a midair refueling was not possible; he then instructed them to refuel at Heierlark Air Force Base in North Osea.
During Yuktobania's attempted invasion of Sand Island on October 4, Thunderhead relayed sonobuoy data gathered by the anti-submarine patrol plane Blue Hound to the Arkbird, which enabled the orbiting spacecraft to destroy the Yuktobanian Navy's submersible carrier Scinfaxi and several of its burst-missile volleys.
Invasion of Yuktobania
On November 1, Thunderhead supported the Osean Army's invasion of the Yuktobanian mainland. Thunderhead supported the operation by relaying communications and tactical data from the ground forces to Wardog Squadron, which allowed the Oseans to mount a successful land-air assault and overtake the Yuktobanian defenses.
The following day, Thunderhead assisted Wardog's interception of Yuktobanian transport planes, which were retreating through Dresdene. However, due to the enemy's defensive ECM jamming, Thunderhead's radar was rendered virtually useless by "ghost" signatures. When a nearby engineering college fell under attack by Osean aircraft, the jamming intensified, nearly severing Thunderhead's communication link with Wardog. Blinded by interference, he could neither identify the perpetrators nor exonerate Wardog of culpability.
After Wardog halted one of the retaliatory terrorist attacks launched by Yuktobania (November 4) and successfully sank the Hrimfaxi (November 14), Thunderhead's faith in Wardog was restored. Over the coming weeks, Thunderhead witnessed more of Wardog's astounding accomplishments and came to display a strong faith in the squadron's abilities.
In the early morning hours of December 7, Wardog's members were accused of treason and fled Sand Island in four commandeered training jets. When the 8492nd Squadron located the fugitives over the Solo Islands, Thunderhead was reluctant to accept that the Wardog pilots were traitors; however, after Major Allen C. Hamilton asserted that they were guilty, Thunderhead tracked the fugitives on radar and monitored the 8492nd Squadron's pursuit.
After Wardog lost the 8492nd, Thunderhead announced that the traitors were back on radar. When Captain Marcus Snow arrived and began to shoot down the Wardog pilots, Thunderhead confirmed Snow's kills as each image faded from his radar. After receiving confirmation from Pix that there was no floating debris in the water, Thunderhead relayed that "all planes [had been] destroyed."
Details regarding Thunderhead's service during the remainder of the war remain unknown; however, it is likely that he continued to oversee the combat operations of other OADF squadrons.
- Unlike other AWACS of the Ace Combat series, Thunderhead's aircraft is never explicitly shown in Ace Combat 5. An allied E-2C Hawkeye with an unknown callsign appears during "Rendezvous", leading to speculation of the possibility that this was Thunderhead; however, since the E-2C in question was shot down by a burst missile launched by the submersible carrier Scinfaxi, this is impossible.
- Thunderhead's catchphrase, "Cut the chatter", could possibly be a reference to a similar line from Star Wars: A New Hope—"Cut the chatter, Red 2."
- Desert Arrow / Desert Lightning, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Open War, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Shorebirds, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Cutscene prior to Narrow Margin, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Rendezvous, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Narrow Margin, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Ending cutscene, Rendezvous, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Front Line, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- 8492, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Lit Fuse, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Blind Spot, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Chain Reaction / Reprisal, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Demons of Razgriz, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Final Option, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Ending cutscene, Final Option, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.