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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[3]

The Arkbird[a] was a maneuverable, low-orbiting spacecraft constructed around 1999[2] to remove Ulysses 1994XF04 debris field formed within the Earth's Roche limit. It was originally conceived by the Osean Federation during the Cold War as an orbital weapon to counteract Yuktobania's advancements in ballistic missile technology. As the relationship between the two countries improved following the Belkan War, they jointly developed the Arkbird as a symbol of peace to protect the planet in a post-Ulysses world[4] and "bridge" a path into outer space.[5]

During the Circum-Pacific War, the Osean military re-purposed the Arkbird into its original function to destroy the Scinfaxi[6][7] and act as a trump card for peace talks.[5] It was subsequently sabotaged[8] by the Grey Men[9] as part of their plot to prolong the war.[10] They later hijacked the Arkbird and loaded a V1 nuclear weapon onto it with the intention of bombing the Yuktobanian city of Okchabursk. Upon discovering this, President Harling ordered the Razgriz Squadron to destroy the Arkbird, causing it to fall into the Ceres Ocean and explode underwater.[9]

The Arkbird's goal to set humanity on a path into outer space was realized with the International Space Elevator, led by then-former President Harling. The space elevator's protectors, the Arsenal Birds, featured many design similarities to the Arkbird, as well as a similar name. Kei Nagase, who was "in love" with the Arkbird earlier in her life[9] and wanted to see Harling's "bridge of peace span into outer space",[5] led a deep-space mission launched from the space elevator[11] to prevent another asteroid's collision with Earth.[12]

Etymology[]

The Arkbird's name is a compound of the words ark (アーク Āku) and bird (バード Bādo).

Ark refers to Noah's Ark, a vessel in the Book of Genesis that saved Noah, his family, and examples of all of Earth's animals from a global flood that remade the world. The ACES WEB article "Arkbird Declaration: Summit 2008" described the G7 Summit on the Arkbird as paving the way for a new world order; in particular, the article described the plan to develop an international space station as a "mission to, as [the Arkbird's] name implies, bring us into a new world".[4]

Bird is a direct reference to the Arkbird's design. The wings on the Arkbird's stern appear similar to those of seabirds in flight. Multiple Osean and Yuktobanian personnel referred to the Arkbird as a "white bird" or simply a "bird",[3][5][7][9][13] and the ACES WEB article similarly refers to the Arkbird's "majestic ... white wings".[4]

History[]

Development[]

The arms race between Osea and Yuktobania during the Cold War included rapid advancements in their ballistic missile technology, which then led to improving defenses against ballistic missiles.[4] As part of its Strategic Defense Initiative, Osea's military started work on satellite-based lasers that could destroy missiles in flight[4] and a kinetic energy platform, the Strategic Orbital Linear Gun, which would be able to destroy missile silos.[14] In 1991, Yuktobania officially revealed the Scinfaxi, a stealth attack submarine that could evade Osean detection until missiles were already launched.[15] In response, Osea's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency began planning out a maneuverable orbiting spacecraft that could adjust its orbit at any time and intercept missiles launched from anywhere on the planet.[4]

In 1995, the Cold War came to an end after the Belkan War's outbreak spurred Osea and Yuktobania to resolve their differences.[16][17] 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. By 2008, the Arkbird had succeeded in clearing 80 percent of the low-orbit debris.[4]

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.[4]

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.[6] On October 3, Basset Space Center attempted to use its mass driver to send an SSTO supply ship loaded with a laser module to the Arkbird. 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.[13]

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 laser 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. In cooperation with Wardog Squadron, the Arkbird delivered one more devastating blow to the submarine's hull, allowing Wardog to destroy the Scinfaxi.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[9]

Astronaut witnessing the fall of the Arkbird

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, captive and Osean astronaut John Harvard engaged the Arkbird's airbrakes, sabotaged the control systems, and ejected from the hijacked spacecraft in one of its emergency escape capsules.[9]

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.[9]

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.[18] 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.[19]

Design[]

Arkbird

Design showing the Arkbird from various angles

The Arkbird was a nearly 500 meters long[20] 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.[9]

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.[9]

Gallery[]

Trivia[]

  • The concept and design of the Arkbird are based off the Saenger ("Sänger II"), a two-stage-to-orbit spaceplane whilst its mission profile of skimming through the top layer of the atmosphere is based on the American HyperSoar strike aircraft which was intended to be a global hypersonic strike and recon aircraft.
  • 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.[21]
  • 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.

See also[]

Footnotes[]

  1. Arkbird (アークバード Ākubādo)

References[]

https://youtu.be/VfHVUKwuAFI

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