Bernitz served in the 1995 Belkan War and later helped instigate the 2010 Circum-Pacific War while under the employ of the shadowy "Grey Men". He was killed in action over Oured Bay on December 31, 2010 during his final confrontation with the legendary Razgriz Squadron.
Bernitz was born in the Belkan Federation in 1957. At some point in his youth, Bernitz enlisted in the Belkan Air Force and became a pilot; he gradually rose through the ranks and became the flight leader of the 6th Air Division's 229th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He was known to have held a vendetta against Colonel Wolfgang Buchner, whom he loathed for placing personal morals before his allegiance to Belka.
Sometime during the Belkan War, Bernitz's unit began referring to itself as the "Grabacr Fighter Squadron", which earned the disdain of Buchner. On May 28, 1995, Bernitz led his squadron into battle during the massive aerial engagement over Area B7R in southern Belka. During the dogfight, Bernitz received word that Buchner had violated direct orders and was attempting to desert. Bernitz—hoping to personally shoot down "Huckebein the Raven"—broke off from his squadron in pursuit of Buchner. Bernitz managed to shoot down the Colonel and an Osean airman, Jack Bartlett, before being taken down by the Allies' mercenary ace, Cipher. Bernitz safely bailed out from his destroyed aircraft and returned to service sometime afterward.
Collusion with the Grey Men
In June 1998, Ashley and his men were inducted into the Osean Air Defense Force as part of an international cooperative gesture to use Belkan pilots to bolster the Osean air force's numbers. Ashley subsequently became the leader of the newly designated 229th Tactical Fighter Squadron. His squadron's activities during this time were shrouded in mystery and eventually became relegated to the status of myths and rumors.
However, Ashley's true allegiance remained with Belka. Sometime between 1995 and early 2010, he and his men began subversive operations with Belkan nationalists known as the "Grey Men" to avenge their nation's crushing defeat in 1995. It was around this time that Ashley and his men began operating under the alias "8492nd Squadron". Although details remain unknown, Ashley and his men worked in some capacity with their Yuktobania-based counterparts, Ofnir Squadron, to reignite tensions between the two world superpowers.
Akerson Hill incident
On October 22, 2010, Ashley's squadron was dispatched to intercept Osean President Vincent Harling's transport plane in order to prevent ceasefire negotiations from occurring at North Point. Upon arriving at the Akerson Hill airspace, Ashley—under the guise of being the 8492nd leader—relieved Wardog Squadron, promising to provide support until the crew of the president's transport was rescued; Harling was subsequently kidnapped and taken into Belkan custody.
Attack on Dresdene
On November 2, Ashley and his squadron flew to Yuktobania to carry out a terror attack against Yuktobanian civilians. Moments before the attack commenced, Wardog, which was operating in the local airspace at the time, overheard Ashley ordering his men to "proceed as planned." Due to intense ECM jamming in the area, however, Ashley and his squadron remained undetected.
Attempts to eliminate Wardog Squadron
- "Wardog, this is the 8492nd Squadron. Can you see us? It'll be an honor for us to escort you heroes. Let's go home."
- ― Bernitz
When Wardog Squadron was targeted for assassination by the Grey Men, Ashley—once again posing as the friendly 8492nd leader—lured the Osean pilots into a failed ambush over the Vladimir Mountains. To prevent Wardog from revealing their existence, Ashley and his men deceived their former wingman and Sand Island's adjutant base commander, Major Allen C. Hamilton, into believing that the Wardog pilots were Yuktobanian spies.
After Wardog commandeered four training jets and escaped Sand Island, Ashley and his squadron located and pursued the fugitive pilots through the Solo Islands. When AWACS Thunderhead expressed his disbelief that Wardog had committed treason, Ashley reaffirmed their "guilt". As his pursuit progressed, Ashley became aware of Buchner's survival, referring to him as the "most infamous traitor [Belka] ever produced." However, due to the islands' natural electromagnetic interference and Wardog's defensive flying, Ashley and his men lost sight of the fugitives and eventually broke off their pursuit. However, Ashley soon witnessed Wardog being shot down by Captain Marcus Snow, leading him to believe that the "Demons of Razgriz" had been eliminated.
Sometime after the incident, Ashley and his unit were relocated to southwestern Belka to assist in the removal of several nuclear warheads from a storage facility beneath Mount Schirm. On December 11, a single unknown fighter penetrated the defensive radar network surrounding the facility; Ashley and his men scrambled to eliminate the black-liveried fighter, but were outran and unsuccessful. Sometime before 1312hrs the following day, Ashley and his squadron helped escort three warheads safely away from Mount Schirm, which were destined for Belkan aggressors in both Osea and Yuktobania.
Several weeks later, on December 23, Ashley was dispatched to the Pobeda Peninsula to prevent the escape of the deposed Yuktobania prime minister, Seryozha Viktrovich Nikanor. When Grabacr Squadron arrived at the target airspace, Ashley was initially skeptical that the Razgriz pilots had survived their "execution", and resolved to find out by challenging them in combat. When one of his wingmen was quickly overtaken and shot down, Ashley became convinced that the jet-black fighters were "definitely" the Razgriz. Ashley, like his fellow wingmen, was summarily shot down; however, he once again ejected to safety and quickly returned to service.
- "You shall fall to your deaths and lead the way for the SOLG as it smashes into the earth!"
- ― Bernitz
On December 31, Grabacr and Ofnir flew to Oured Bay to ensure that the Strategic Orbital Linear Gun (SOLG) descended through the atmosphere and impacted Osea's capital, Oured. During their approach towards the capital, Ashley and his countrymen encountered Razgriz Squadron, which was bound for the satellite's descent point. Despite outnumbering the Razgriz two to one, Ashley and his fellow Belkans were shot down in the ensuing dogfight. He is presumed to have been killed in action.
Bernitz's S-32 livery used during the final moments of the Circum-Pacific War
- Ashley's callsign, "Grabacr", is derived from Grábakr, a serpent-like creature of Norse mythology that gnawed on the roots of the world tree, Yggdrasil.
- Hasegawa 1/72 "Su-47 Berkut ACE COMBAT Grabacr" (plastic model) description.
- The Unsung War, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Assault Records #083: Ashley Bernitz, Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War.
- Final Option, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Dialogue during Final Option, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Mayhem, Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War.
- Cutscene 16, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Aces At War: A History, page needed.
- Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Ending cutscene, Handful of Hope, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Blind Spot, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- 8492, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Cutscene 18, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Cutscene during Heartbreak One, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Solitaire, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Closure, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Heartbreak One, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.