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"Markov and Warwolf One are lost from radar! It's a battle between aces!"
AWACS Magic

Akula is the last mission of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. It takes place approximately 2 hours after the events of Hurricane where Warwolf 1 arrives at Washington DC, having to protect it from the waves of attacks from the remnants of NRF.

Plot

Protecting the USS Anzio

Washington D.C. is littered with anti-air defenses, from Patriot missile batteries such as Jericho 1 to US Navy ships such as the AEGIS cruiser USS Anzio. In addition, any rebel aircraft attempting to avoid AAA from the USS Anzio as they make a decided effort to breach American defenses via Potomac River (where the AEGIS cruiser is situated) would be engaged by fighter jets. However, rebels with crippled planes start pummeling into the Anzio itself, causing heavy damage. Warwolf and Viper attempt to shoot them down before they crash into the Anzio but can't take them all. The Anzio is abandoned in a sinking state after a third ramming attack.

Protecting the White House

After the Anzio's defenses are disabled, five bombers approach Washington D.C. at high altitude. Magic informs Bishop that the bombers need to be shot down before they reach the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, else their weapons will reach the White House area. Bishop, with support from Jericho 1 and 2, shoots down all five bombers, but as Guts mentioned during Aftermath, the Russians always had a sixth bomber. Bishop engages the sixth bomber, who is flying at low altitude. He destroys it, but that last bomber ends up crashing into the Woodrow Wilson bridge, taking out in the process the fire control trailer of the Jericho 1 battery deployed on the bridge and leaving the path over the Potomac River open. Akula is then spotted at low altitude, flying his PAK FA with Trinity on its wing towards the White House. Bishop pursues and chases the plane around DC, slowly damaging the PAK FA. Akula tries to shake Bishop as best he can, darting past the Washington Monument and Capitol Building and performing counter-maneuvers, but Bishop is relentless. Eventually Akula sets a trajectory for the White House and pulls his nose up. Bishop riddles his plane with bullets, ripping the PAK FA's canopy off and flinging Akula out.

"Trinity's still alive!"

What Bishop didn't realize is that Markov had pointed his nose upwards to lob-toss the Trinity missile, giving it enough altitude to glide its way to the White House. In desperation upon seeing the missile, Bishop nevertheless manages to inflict enough damage to cause the missile to veer into the nearby Tide Basin, where it detonates harmlessly except for some splashed water to the surrounding area. Bishop nearly loses control of his aircraft from the explosion's shockwave but recovers in the end and manages to contact the air traffic control and they request him to land on the runway at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

After landing

The crowd, guarded by military security, see Bishop get off from his F-22 Raptor, but as he walked off from the plane, Janice Rehl pushes through the crowd and congratulates him, and hugs him for destroying the weapon. Bishop then tells her what happened to Guts, but Rehl tells him that the military picked up his emergency beacon and there's still hope and rescue is already on their way and hugs him the second time. However, after being hugged, he sees the crowd cheering him and raises his arm the final time and the crowd praises him and gives him a hero's welcome for his actions on the sky. It ends with Bishop narrating, "I saw my death in my dreams, many times but didn't die. I was better than my fears. Better than my nightmares, but to find out, I had to face them all. I had to get through the worst to prove I was the best." As the game ends with a formation of F-22 Raptors flying which causes the screen to turn black, Bishop says his last final words in narration, "that was my reality," and as the credits start, it opens with green landscapes such as mountains and hills, before we cut out to the credit roll. During the credit roll, we see a radar of cities such as Moscow and Florida.

Top Rank

Earning the top Clear Rank (S Rank in Japanese, A Rank in other languages) on this mission requires a total score of 2,000 or more.[1]

Trivia

  • This is the second time that the player has to shoot down a Trinity missile, after Pipeline.
  • If the player finishes this mission in Campaign Mode and watches the credits, a cutscene afterwards shows Guts being rescued by a Black Hawk.
  • If player doesn't shoot down all bandits which are not marked as TGT_LEAD before chasing down last TGT_LEAD, all remaining enemy aircraft may smash into USS Anzio together when the third kamikaze attack happens, but only the last TGT_LEAD triggers a major explosion.
  • When battling Markov, the player must keep engaging or being engaged in DFM. If the player is not in DFM for longer than one minute, the mission will fail as Markov releases Trinity on the White House.
  • Even though Markov is scripted to be "invincible" until diving to the White House, the player cannot just follow him without landing hits on his plane, or he will keep using evasive maneuvers and counter-maneuvers to make the dogfight continue indefinitely.
  • Sometimes when the mission is played more than once in the campaign mode, there is a possibility of seeing Markov eject after being shot down by Bishop.
  • It is possible to see Trinity is released from Markov's PAK-FA when dealing the final blows. However, due to the focus on the plane, the warhead only appears as a blurred image.
  • On normal difficulty and above, like in Blue on Blue, the player's plane will receive damage over time. The mission will fail if player cannot land in time.
  • Although it is stated that all SAM defenses were out of action when the last Tu-160 Blackjack bomber crashed into Woodrow Wilson Bridge, a few SAM trucks are still seen just as Jericho 1 was destroyed. However, they do not engage Markov, due to the loss of fire control data from Jericho 1.
  • There is an issue in the final dogfight where Markov will launch 4AAMs when Bishop is at his tail. These missiles have excellent maneuverability and ignore flares if they are deployed too early. This is easily remedied by exiting and immediately re-entering DFM mode, which causes any missiles chasing you to disappear.
  • During the final scene when Major Rehl hugs Bishop at Ronald Reagan Airport, a 747-400 is visible. However, it is absent during the gameplay when Bishop chases Markov; a group of Airbus A340s are parked instead.

References

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