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"The white bird rose up once again, laser cannon in its wings. It was a moving sight. In my heart, though, I wished it didn't have to be used in war."
Kei Nagase[1]

The Arkbird (アークバード Ākubādo) was a maneuverable, low-orbiting spacecraft conceived during the Cold War by the Osean Federation to counteract Yuktobania's recent advancements in SLBM technology. The Arkbird eventually became a symbol of peace and cooperation between the two superpowers in the years after the Belkan War. It was later deployed by Osea during the Circum-Pacific War to counter the Scinfaxi-class submersible carriers. Due to the war-ending threat it posed, the Arkbird was later sabotaged and hijacked by the Grey Men, and was planned to be used to drop a V1 on the Yuktobanian city of Okchabursk. It was destroyed by the Razgriz Squadron under the orders of President Harling during Operation Game Bird.

History

Development

During the Cold War, the arms race between Osea and Yuktobania was marked by the rapid, lockstep evolution of long-range ballistic missiles and missile-interceptor systems. In response to the growing threat, Osea developed Satellite-Based Laser (SBL) and Anti-Satellite Laser (A-SAT) weapons to destroy Yuktobanian missiles mid-flight. However, fears of increasingly stealthy attack submarines prompted the Osean Department of Defense to submit plans for a "Maneuverable Orbiting Spacecraft" under the Strategic Defense Initiative, which paved the way for the Arkbird's construction.[2][3]

In 1995, the Cold War came to end after the Belkan War's outbreak spurred Osea and Yuktobania to resolve their differences.[4] The Arkbird concept remained unrealized until the world was confronted with the threat of Ulysses 1994XF04's impending impact in 1999. Both Osea and Yuktobania built the Arkbird to eliminate asteroid fragments lingering in orbit. The Arkbird was equipped with energy weapons manufactured in both countries, including a powerful Yuktobanian beam-laser system on its top side. Years after the Ulysses disaster, the Arkbird had succeeded in clearing 80 percent of the orbital debris.[5]

During the early 21st century, the Arkbird was used as a testbed for further developments in aeronautical technologies and space exploration, with the ultimate goal of constructing an international space station. In 2008, the Arkbird served as the site of the G7 Summit, which hosted several heads of state from the Osean, Verusan, and Usean continents. In what came to be known as the "Arkbird Declaration", Osean President Vincent Harling called for the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.[6]

Circum-Pacific War

On September 30, 2010, the Osean military authorized the deployment of the Arkbird in the Circum-Pacific War in response to the submarine carrier Scinfaxi's burst missile attack on the same day, which sank the aircraft carriers OFS Buzzard and OFS Vulture at the Eaglin Straits.[7] On October 3, Basset Space Center attempted to use its mass driver to send an SSTO supply ship loaded with an A-SAT laser module to the Arkbird.[8] Despite the efforts of the Yuktobanian forces to prevent the launch, including an airborne assault using air-dropped tanks and cruise missiles, the SSTO was launched successfully.

The following day, the Arkbird was employed during Yuktobania's amphibious assault on Sand Island to eliminate the threat of the Scinfaxi's burst missiles. During the engagement, the Arkbird utilized its A-SAT module to vaporize the burst missiles during their boost phase. After a large volley of missiles proved too great for the Arkbird's laser, the Osean crew aboard the Arkbird requested additional sonobuoy data from the anti-submarine patrol plane Blue Hound. The Arkbird's crew then isolated the Scinfaxi's position underwater and pierced its hull with the laser, forcing it to surface. The Arkbird subsequently delivered one more devastating blow to the Scinfaxi, leading to its destruction at the hands of Wardog Squadron.[9]

Three weeks after the failed Sand Island invasion, the Arkbird was sabotaged by the Belkan secret society known as the Grey Men. To this end, an SSTO supply shipment received by the Arkbird was loaded with explosives, knocking the Arkbird out of action for months. Between October and December 2010, the spacecraft was quietly seized by Grey Men operatives, who retrofitted UAV launch-ports onto the Arkbird's hull. At least one known operative, callsign "Adler", infiltrated the Arkbird's crew unbeknownst to Osean astronaut John Harvard, who was stationed on board the spacecraft at the time.[10]

In early December, a V1 nuclear warhead that had been stolen from Mount Schirm was loaded onto the Arkbird. The Grey Men planned to detonate the bomb on the city of Okchabursk, Yuktobania in an effort to escalate the war. On December 19, the intelligence vessel OFS Andromeda intercepted a coded transmission in Belkan signaling the start of the attack. In order to attack Okchabursk at the designated time, the Arkbird was required to descend into the upper atmosphere and use air friction to lower its speed and adjust its orbit.

John Harvard gazes from his escape capsule at the Arkbird's crash site

Under the direct authorization of President Harling, the former Wardog pilots, now acting as Razgriz Squadron, intercepted the Arkbird over the Ceres Ocean. Upon realizing what was happening, Harvard engaged the Arkbird's airbrakes, sabotaged the control systems, and ejected from the hijacked spacecraft in one of its emergency escape capsules.[11]

The Arkbird—now under Adler's control—began a steep dive into the atmosphere, where it came under fire by the Razgriz. The Arkbird attempted to gain altitude and escape the atmosphere by initiating its various reserve engine systems while fighting off the Razgriz using its UAVs and lasers. As each engine was disabled, the Arkbird struggled to maintain altitude and began to rapidly descend. In a last act of desperation, the Arkbird altered course and began heading towards nearby Osean territory, in an attempt to self-destruct in Osean airspace using the nuclear warhead. Adler ignited the Arkbird's final remaining booster engine in an attempt to reach this goal, which was also destroyed. The Arkbird subsequently crashed into the ocean and was destroyed, along with its lethal cargo.[10]

Post-Destruction

Following the rescue of Prime Minister Nikanor, Nastasya Vasilievna Obertas and Jack Bartlett, Nastasya remarked that the space center was still launching supplies into orbit even after the Arkbird's destruction, leading her to believe they were bound for the SOLG satellite. Later, the intelligence vessel OFS Andromeda tracked down the SOLG control system using transmissions sent by a Grey Men operative, callsign "Schenze" to the Arkbird.

Design

Design showing the Arkbird from various angles

The Arkbird was a large spaceborne craft that featured a sweeping, aerodynamic design. Its white-plated fuselage was vaguely triangular in shape, gradually widening and flattening towards the stern. Upward-swept wings (reminiscent of a seabird's) complemented the design and provided most of the spacecraft's atmospheric maneuvering capabilities. The Arkbird was supported by five main engines: two dual-nozzle rocket boosters on the stern's ventral port and starboard sides; two large combined cycle engines on the stern's dorsal port and starboard sides; and one large, auxiliary booster engine at the center of the dorsal fuselage.[10]

The ship's bridge and navigational systems were located at the bow of the fuselage. The central fuselage housed a rapid-firing Yuktobanian laser unit on a circular mounting atop the Arkbird's dorsal section, flanked by anti-air missile launchers on the port and starboard sides. Emergency escape pods and as well as the powerful A-SAT laser module were fitted to the Arkbird's ventral hull. Once retrofitted by the Grey Men, the Arkbird's ventral hull also accommodated two UAV launch ports, capable of launching Vogels.[10]

Gallery

Trivia

  • The concept and design of the Arkbird are based off the Saenger (spacecraft) ("Sänger II"), a two-stage-to-orbit spaceplane.
  • The Arkbird is the first superweapon in the series that supports the player during a campaign mission; it is also the only superweapon that can be controlled by the player (as seen in the campaign of Ace Combat: Northern Wings).
  • Occasionally on higher difficulties, when the player must destroy the final booster engine, a glitch causes the Arkbird to begin moving around like a conventional aircraft.[12]
  • The Arkbird is featured in the mobile game Ace Combat: Northern Wings. In the game's plot, it is revealed that Nordennavic secretly supported the development of the Arkbird, which makes a few in-game appearances as well.
    • In the Osean campaign, Grendel 1 assumes control of the A-SAT cannon to attack the invading Yuktobanian fleet during the siege of Sand Island. Later on, Grendel Squadron chases the Belkan-controlled Arkbird (during the events of "White Bird (Part II)") and attacks it alongside the Ghosts of Razgriz, in a clear contradiction of established canon.
  • Bandai Namco's Ridge Racer series features an automotive parts manufacturer by the name of "Arkbird"; the Arkbird logo can also be found on in-game car decals and billboards.

References

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