Colonel Andrei Markov[a] is the main antagonist of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. Markov is a former, decorated pilot of the Russian Air Force. He always flies an aircraft painted with a distinctive design of a shark's mouth, earning him the nickname and call-sign Akula.[b]
In retaliation for the death of his wife, Krista Yoslav, during a NATO bombing raid, Markov swore revenge against NATO and especially the United States of America. He left the Russian military to form a rebellion group with the purpose of developing and using a massive super-weapon against the United States.
In January 2016, Markov attempted to drop the super-weapon onto the White House in a final act of vengeance, but Lieutenant Colonel William Bishop killed him and destroyed the weapon before it could cause any major damage.
- "Krista. She was my wife. You would have court martialled me if I admitted that then. But yes. My wife. Killed by the bastard Americans and their bombs."
- ― Markov speaking to Ivan Stagleishov after killing him
At the outbreak of the Bosnian War, Russia began to secretly back the Serbians in the region by sending troops and supplies. Markov was sent along with Sergei Illich and Ivan Stagleishov (the latter being the unit's commander). During this operation, Markov fell in love with and married Krista Yoslav, a Bosnian; their marriage had to be kept secret, especially from Stagleishov, since Markov was supporting the Serbs against the Bosnians.
At some point during Operation Deliberate Force - the NATO-led mass bombing of Serbians in 1995 - an American bomber squadron went off course and killed, among other civilians, Krista Yoslav. Markov and Illich, who was his best friend and knew about the secret marriage, discovered her dead body among the rubble just as the bombing had ended. At that point, Markov swore revenge against the United States.
Upon returning to Russia, Markov eventually rose to the rank of Colonel, and was so well known for his flying abilities that virtually everyone in the Russian Air Force had heard of him. In 2005, for his skill and efforts on the battlefield, he was awarded the honorary title of "Hero of the Russian Federation".
Blatnoi and activities in Africa
- "Face it Bishop. You are not good enough."
- ― Markov to Bishop after damaging his aircraft
In 2015, Markov and some of his former comrades from Bosnia joined the Blatnoi crime syndicate as they planned to overthrow the Russian government, though he merely joined looking for a way to claim revenge for the death of his wife. He was the focus of a precognitive dream by United States Air Force Colonel William Bishop, whom Markov killed during a battle over Miami.
Markov's presence in the Blatnoi-backed SRN insurgency in Africa would remain hidden until late December 2015. Stagleishov, another Russian who joined Blatnoi, led his personal squadron on an assault on Carruth, then rendezvoused with Markov and returned to Hamada to officially switch sides and attack the NATO forces. After the rest of Stagleishov's squadron was shot down, he and Markov entered the engagement zone. Markov began to pursue José Gutierrez, until Bishop came to his rescue. Markov instead focused fire on Bishop, inflicting heavy damage on his aircraft before being forced to disengage due to low fuel.
New Russian Federation
Following Blatnoi's conversion into the New Russian Federation, and the NRF's successful coup d'état of the Russian government, Bishop and the rest of NATO Task Force 108 joined loyal Russian forces in a counterattack starting with an NRF-held fortress in Derbent. After the area was liberated, Markov launched a cruise missile equipped with a Trinity warhead, forcing Bishop to shoot it down before it could destroy Derbent. Markov immediately disengaged from the battle zone after firing the missile. He was then spotted on a recon drone's feed talking with Stagleishov prior to the drone's destruction by a surface-to-air missile over the Caucasus region, where a missile launch against the United States was being prepared.
Markov would not make another appearance against the NATO forces until they began their assault on NRF forces holding Moscow. After Central Moscow was decimated by a Trinity missile and Task Force 108 shot down five Tu-160s approaching Moscow, Markov arrived with a sixth Tu-160 carrying a Trinity bomb. Bishop shot down the bomber, then focused on Markov. The two had an extended dogfight through Central Moscow before Bishop managed to destroy Markov's aircraft. Markov ejected at that point, surviving the fight.
U.S. assault and death
After Moscow was liberated, Stagleishov surrendered and pleaded for political amnesty in exchange for the last remaining Trinity weapon. However, Markov showed his true colors by betraying and killing him, and stole the missile as well as the NRF's other remaining supplies to carry out his act of vengeance.
Markov, now flying a PAK-FA equipped with the final Trinity missile, led an assault on Miami (just as Bishop's dream had predicted a month prior) and personally entered the battle zone, attempting to shoot down Bishop. Gutierrez, however, flew in front of Bishop and took the missile, being forced to bail out after Bishop used his cannon to help blow Guts' canopy. Markov and Bishop then attacked each other head-on before parting ways temporarily to refuel, Markov flying directly into Hurricane Alex.
The hurricane provided cover for Markov and another bomber squadron as communications and radar were hampered by interference from the storm. Illich, meanwhile, distracted Warwolf Squadron from chasing down Markov long enough for him to disappear as he made his way to Washington, D.C. Markov instructed his remaining allies to perform suicidal attacks on Washington's anti-air defenses, including the USS Anzio and SAM batteries, to give him room to fly in and drop Trinity on the White House (having been damaged over Miami, preventing a missile launch). Bishop pursued him throughout the airspace, eventually shooting him down and killing him, but not before he managed to let go of Trinity. Bishop swiftly destroyed it over the nearby river before it could cause any damage, ending the conflict and leaving Markov's death in vain.
- "Are you coming for me, Warwolf Leader?"
- ― Markov taunting Bishop
In combat, he wore a black flight suit, contrasting with the blue worn by Sergei Illich and the olive drab worn by other pilots.
It is unknown what he was like before Bosnia. However, Krista's death would take a severe toll on him, for the event turned him into a cold and calculating individual. During combat, he would often taunt Bishop, whom he saw as a worthy opponent (albeit not initially) while making sarcastic comments on both him and Gutierrez. Throughout the events of the New Russian Federation coup d'état, his primary objective was to carry out his revenge on the United States to avenge his wife's death and did not show any loyalty towards the Russian Federation, putting his personal task before anything else.
He would go as far as to manipulate the remnants of the NRF to fly with him to the U.S. and betray Stagleishov when he decided to end the coup, showing that he was not someone to be trusted. He was not above betraying his allies if it suited his purpose. He even instructed several of his Russian pilots to mercilessly conduct kamikaze attacks on various targets in Washington D.C. so he can destroy it himself using the last Trinity warhead, all while sending a group of six Tu-160 Blackjack bombers to bombard the air defenses over Woodrow Wilson Bridge. He also has a tendency to fly ruthlessly when using the Pugachev's Cobra to attack Bishop and even destroying F-15C jets over Hurricane Alex in North Carolina as well as F-16C jets over Washington D.C., not caring for anyone trying to save lives.
Though he is a skilled pilot, he was willing to die in success when he decided to break off his attack on Bishop so he can launch the remaining Trinity warhead on the White House just as his aircraft began to suffer external damage. However, Bishop realized this and destroyed the warhead, leaving his ultimate goal to fail in vain.
The Su-35S Flanker-E, one of Markov's signature aircraft
Markov's Su-35 pulling off a Pugachev's Cobra
Markov equipped with a Trinity warhead
- Markov's Su-35S and Sukhoi PAK FA paint scheme's are identical to the real life prototypes on both his aircraft (save for the shark mouth on the nose). This could suggest that Blatnoi secretly bought or stole the prototypes of both planes and gave them to Markov, being that he is the leader of the NRF Air Forces, or it could be that Project Aces used the photos of both aircraft and painted Markov's shark mouth on the nose when they created the template.
- Prior to the release of the game, Markov was described by early trailers and gaming websites as being a freelance mercenary working for the East African militia.
- Markov has the most in-battle dialogue of any enemy unit in the game, as he can somehow hack allied communications.
- He is a counterpart to Bishop in many ways. In contrast with Bishop who held the rank as Lieutenant Colonel, he holds the rank as Colonel, fought in Bosnia (whereas Bishop fought in Iraq), and also has access to the most powerful aircraft in his country's air force.
- During development, Keiki Kobayashi planned to compose a personal song for the "Shark" trailer, tentatively called "Theme of Markov", which was described by Kobayahi as a "representation" of the character's willpower. The song was first announced in a Twitter message from Kazutoki Kono, who later disclosed its cancellation on April 20, 2011.
- Andrei Markov (アンドレイ・マルコフ)
- Akula (アクーラ)
- Briefing prior to Pipeline. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- Akula. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- Characters. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Official website. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
- Cutscenes and briefing prior to Home Front. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- 地上の敵を一掃する「エアストライク・モード」を紹介. Game Watch. Published May 19, 2011. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
- Nightmare. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- Blue on Blue. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- Pipeline. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- Cutscene prior to Launch. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- Aftermath. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- Home Front. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- Hurricane. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.