Blaze[a] was an Osean pilot, captain, and flight leader of the Osean Air Defense Force's Wardog Squadron (later Razgriz Squadron). He is the player-character of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War; his signature aircraft is the F-14A Tomcat.
Blaze initially served under Captain Jack Bartlett until the latter was shot down on September 27, 2010 during Operation Gyre. Blaze assumed command of the squadron after his squadmate, Kei Nagase, declined her own promotion to flight leader. Over the course of the Circum-Pacific War, Blaze led his squadmates to numerous decisive victories, which turned the tide of war in Osea's favor. The Wardog pilots' tactical efficiency was lauded by the Osean military and feared by the Yuktobanians, earning them several nicknames—most famously, "The Demons of Razgriz".
Pre-War and Declaration of War
Some time before the start of Ace Combat 5, Blaze was assigned to the Wardog Squadron under the command of Captain Jack Bartlett (callsign Heartbreak One). This was likely after the incident involving the unidentified aircraft, which resulted in the loss of many Sand Island recruits. Blaze flew as the fourth fighter in Wardog Squadron, alongside Bartlett, Kei Nagase (callsign Edge), and Alvin H. Davenport (callsign Chopper).
Blaze's first known operation in Wardog Squadron was Operation: Lagoon, on September 24, 2010. An SR-71 spy plane of unknown origin had been confirmed flying near Cape Landers. The Osean Air Defense Force (OADF) SAM defense systems attacked and damaged the aircraft, preventing it from climbing to altitude and escaping. Wardog Squadron was sent out to try and force the aircraft to land, and were forbidden from firing upon it. At the start of the operation, Bartlett gave Blaze the nickname "Kid", which would stick with him for the duration of Ace Combat 5. Afterwards, the Wardog Squadron encountered several unknown aircraft. When these aircraft opened fire, Captain Bartlett ordered Wardog squadron to attack, against their orders. All aircraft were shot down, and Wardog Squadron returned to base, where Captain Bartlett was reprimanded for disobeying orders.
Three days later, during Operation: Gyre, Wardog Squadron was sent out to destroy enemy UAVs launched from a spy ship with orders not to fire on the ship. Again, bandits appeared and Wardog shot them down against orders. Afterwards, Bartlett was shot down by a SAM from the spy vessel, and ejected from his plane. After the engagement, the remaining members of Wardog squadron returned to base to refuel after the declaration of war on Osea by Yuktobania.
Taking Command of Wardog
After refueling, Wardog Squadron scrambled to Port St. Hewlett, which was being attacked by Yuktobania. Blaze took command of Wardog Squadron when Edge refused to take up position as flight lead. Blaze and the Wardog Squadron helped defend the aircraft carrier OFS Kestrel as well as the 3rd Osean Naval Fleet from the attack, allowing much of the fleet to escape from the port. However, a Yuktobanian naval blockade was waiting, which the Kestrel and the fleet broke through with air support from Wardog.
After the battle, it was discovered that Captain Bartlett was not at the site of his wreckage, and Blaze continued to take temporary command of the squadron while Bartlett's replacement, Lieutenant Colonel Ford, travelled to Sand Island. However, Ford was shot down during an air raid over Sand Island, leaving Blaze in permanent command of the squadron. During the battle, Airman 1st Class Hans Grimm (callsign Archer), a rookie pilot, joined the Wardog Squadron.
Blaze and the Wardog Squadron then deployed on an escort mission involving regrouping the Osean Navy at the Eaglin Straits. The task forces assembled included three carriers- the OFS Vulture, the OFS Buzzard, and the OFS Kestrel (which had escaped Port St.Hewlett without any damage, thanks to Wardog). The carriers were then attacked by VTOL aircraft launched from Yuktobania's underwater carrier submarine, the Scinfaxi. The Scinfaxi then launched a wave of burst missiles which destroyed most of the fleet, including the Vulture and the Buzzard. Having escaped the missiles but without enough fuel to return to Sand Island, Wardog refueled and rearmed at Heierlark Air Force Base in North Osea (formerly South Belka). Wardog escorted several new pilots (aka "nuggets") back to Sand Island, and since the inexperienced pilots could not refuel in midair, they were forced to stop at several air bases.
Blaze and the others were then tasked with defending Basset Space Center, and the SSTO containing the laser cannon that was to outfit the Arkbird, Osea's greatest technological achievement. They protected SSTO and Basset from airborne tanks and cruise missiles, and came home without any major damage. For a while, it remained unknown why Yuktobanian forces targeted the Space Center. When they returned, Yuktobania attacked Sand Island again. With the Arkbird's lasers, they destroyed the enemy amphibious assault fleet, and the advanced submarine Scinfaxi, though they lost all of the trainee pilots.
Things were quiet for several weeks, and then the newly promoted 1st Lieutenants of Wardog were sent on patrol missions on Akerson Hill, where a passenger jet, carrying then-unknown Osean President Vincent Harling, was on a top-secret mission to North Point. As such, the jet could not transmit a friendly IFF signal to the network of anti-air missile batteries below, one of which damaged the jet and limited its mobility. After a surprise attack by Yuktobanian forces, and a struggle inside the jet which killed the captain and injured a few others, Blaze guided President Harling's plane safely to the ground, where the mysterious "8492nd Squadron" took over the rescue.
Blaze assisted in the landing of Osean forces on Yuktobania, and his fame started to grow. When Yuktobania began to withdraw, Blaze, Edge, Chopper and Archer shot down a squadron of transports and jamming craft. However, during this operation, the mysterious "8492nd Squadron" launched a terrorist attack on a civilian engineering college and killed several civilians. Osea pointed the finger at Blaze and Wardog, and they were ordered back to Oured for an inquiry.
Wardog proved their innocence when they were given the task of defending Apito International Airport from a reprisal Yuktobanian attack and neutralize a chemical threat on Bana City. Blaze saved many civilian lives, and was presumably cleared of all charges. On their way back to Sand Island, all of them were exhausted as they completed yet another difficult mission.
The Demons of Razgriz
Upon return, they were sent up yet again to destroy the sister submarine of Scinfaxi, Hrimfaxi, in the Razgriz Straits. They destroyed it, and as it sank a Yuktobanian soldier made a quip about the four planes being "The Demons of Razgriz" - birthing a nickname that caused fear among allies and enemies alike.
They then destroyed ground and air forces at a POW camp in Glubina during a bad storm. Aided by the elite Osean Marine unit Sea Goblin, they rescued the imprisoned pilots, however, much to Nagase's disappointment, Captain Bartlett was not among them. Edge was shot down, but she ejected safely without any injury. As the Sea Goblin gunship went down to rescue her, it crashed as well. Blaze was forced to return to base without his wingman. They returned to Glubina and rescued Edge as soon as the weather improved. Four once again, Wardog attacked Yuke forces in the Jilachi Desert, with the soldiers beginning to call them "The Heroes of the Razgriz Straits". This is the first time that friendly forces realized who the "Razgriz" were after hearing it from enemy soldiers.
November City Incident and Cruik
During a ceremonial flight over November City's football stadium, performed by the now famous Wardog Squadron, Osean Vice President Appelrouth enthusiastically tried to rally the audience to back the Osean war machine, but all in attendance, instead of cheering, sang a popular anti-war song. At that moment, Yuktobanian fighters appeared and began attacking Wardog. Reinforcements were called, but the leader of the 8492nd Squadron deployed ECM devices and convinced the incoming reinforcements that the whole emergency was just a drill, subsequently leaving Wardog to stave off the Yuke forces alone. The four pilots fought bravely, but Chopper sustained critical damage to his aircraft during the battle; his systems were failing and he could not eject. He waited as long as he could before dropping his plane into the center of the stadium. Enraged at the loss of their close friend, Blaze, Edge, and Archer seemed to summon incredible abilities to fly their aircraft, decimating the enemy forces, until reinforcements finally arrived, too late to be of any help.
For his heroics, Chopper received a posthumous two-rank promotion, presumably to Lieutenant Colonel. Swallowing their sorrow, the remaining members of Wardog then captured the "impregnable" Cruik fortress.
Passing through the Vladimir Mountain range as they returned home exhausted, they were ambushed by the "8492nd Squadron", and several Belkan fighters. It was quickly determined by Wardog, and concurrently at Sand Island by Pops and Gennette, that it was the 8492nd who had kidnapped the president and indirectly resulted in the death of Chopper.
They returned home, and discovered most of Sand Island was against them - the adjutant base commander Allen C. Hamilton, in truth a member of the Belkan nationalist group known as the "Grey Men", had been manipulating the base commander and others against them. Pops, their only remaining ally, provided training jets with which to escape Sand Island, and they disappeared with the help of Marcus Snow and the OFS Kestrel's captain, Nicholas A. Andersen, Snow joined the unit as they, with the help of the Kestrel-based Sea Goblin helicopter squadron, liberated President Harling from his prison in Stier Castle (Here, in Ace Combat 5, the player can see one of the craters from the nuclear detonations from the war 15 years ago), where the 8492nd, also known as the Belkan Grabacr Squadron, had been keeping him. During the war 15 years ago, Belka had been defeated by the allied Osean and Yuktobanian forces, and it was determined that this war was their revenge.
Rebirth as Razgriz
Blaze's squadron was renamed the "Ghosts of Razgriz" by President Harling after they rescued him. Relying upon dates and geological coordinates provided by an anonymous figure, Blaze flew out on a solo reconnaissance mission to Mt. Schirm in Belka, and photographed several Osean, Yuktobanian fighters and workers who were at the mine entrance. As this was to be strictly a recon mission, he was forced to fly completely unarmed aside from a special airplane-mounted camera. This was ultimately a problem, as Blaze was then forced to retreat from the approaching Grabacr and Ofnir Squadrons, and his squadmates rescued him from the west. It was confirmed that the 8492nd Squadron was in fact Grabacr, and that both it and Ofnir were Belkan aggressor squadrons, assigned to act as spies for the Osean and Yuktobanian militaries, respectively. Razgriz returned the next day and sealed in what they believed the nuclear weapons were stored in Mount Schirm's mines.
They were directed to a canyon in Yuktobania where a resistance movement, under direction from the mysterious friend of the Ghosts of Razgriz, were dismantling a nuclear weapon. Blaze eliminated all enemies that were searching for the movement, and then shot down the Ofnir Squadron, Belkan aggressors in Yuktobania, who had been sent to destroy them. It was then revealed to Blaze that the mysterious friend was none other than Captain Bartlett. The Razgriz then shot down the Arkbird, which had been captured by Belkan operatives, over the Ceres Ocean. They made contact with Jack Bartlett and Nastasya Vasilievna Obertas, a Yuktobanian recon Major who had broke his heart fifteen years earlier, again when they helped him escape with the unconscious Yuktobanian Prime Minister, Seryozha Viktrovich Nikanor, who, just like Harling, had been a prisoner of the Belkans. Blaze and his wingmen shot down the Grabacr, who had arrived to kill them.
When they returned to the Kestrel, Razgriz destroyed an enemy fleet that had been sent to find them, as well as an Osean battle group that was sent to kill the "traitorous" Andersen.
Assault on Sudentor and Operation Arcadia
Afterwards, they discovered that the V2 rocket, a weapon of mass destruction, had been loaded onto an attack satellite, the SOLG. The SOLG's control was in the hands of Belka's South Belka Munitions Factory, posing as Grunder Industries, friend and weapons manufacturer of Osea. The Razgriz were about to launch when Kestrel was hit by two sub-launched missiles. The original order was to abandon ship, as well as any hope of stopping the Belkans, but Captain Andersen overrode this order and launched the four planes into the sky, saying in a life raft:
"I've lost time and time again. But now, I've finally won. ...Look! We launched them off safely, there's my victory. As long as they're in the air, I haven't lost."
Blaze was joined by Yuktobanian and Osean forces after both President Harling and Prime Minister Nikanor made a speech asking both armies to stand down. As they reached Sudentor, where Grunder had chosen to base themselves, they destroyed hostile ground units and the SOLG control by navigating a narrow tunnel while being chased at high speed by Major Hamilton, a Belkan operative within the OADF. It was then revealed the SOLG was programmed to reenter the earth's atmosphere if control was ever cut off from the ground. Based on its descent trajectory, it was to crash in the middle of downtown Oured. Blaze led the Razgriz one final time as they shot down both Ofnir and Grabacr, and then the SOLG.
Little is known of Blaze's activities following the war, but the Razgriz Squadron did not engage in further battles again and Blaze, along with the other members of Razgriz Squadron, left the Osean Air Defense Force some time after.
In 2020, all information regarding the Razgriz Squadron personnel and The Circum-Pacific War was released to the public.
- Blaze, along with Nagase and Grimm, was a Captain when the three of them were officially declared KIA. Since they were branded as traitors by the Osean military, they would have been dishonorably discharged and not granted the posthumous two-rank promotion.
- Interestingly, Davenport was granted his two-rank promotion after his death, naming him Lieutenant Colonel while the others in the squadron were still Captains. This means that Davenport, while KIA, outranked Blaze, and still does to this day.
- While Snow is sometimes thought to outrank Blaze due to being a Navy captain (OF-6) rather than an Air Force one (OF-2), this may not reflect the actual rank structure of the OMDF.[note 1]
- In the Japanese version of Ace Combat 5, and some early English trailers, Bartlett gave Blaze the nickname "Booby". This is a reference to the real-life German ace Erich Hartmann (nicknamed "Bubi") and Blaze's starting position at the squadron's tail. The nickname was changed to "Kid" in North America because the American staff remarked that the nickname was similar to a slang term for women's breasts (boobies).
- In a sepia-toned picture taken by Albert Genette showing the members of the Wardog Squadron, Chopper's arm blocks out what is or appears to be Blaze's head.
- Also, in the cutscene after Mission 20, when the members of the recently renamed Razgriz Squadron gather around the Kestrel's PA system, Blaze's body (or what appears to be Blaze's body) can be seen, but his head is cut out of the video by the upper part of the frame.
- Because of the aforementioned points above, Blaze is the first player character from Strangereal who has ever been physically seen outside of gameplay, though his face is still obscured.
- In Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception, the F-4E Phantom II's Leasath paint scheme features Blaze's number "016" on the nose.
- ↑ F-14A Tomcat `Ace Combat Wardog Squadron` (Plastic model) Package3.
- ↑ Hasegawa 1/72 F-14A "Wardog" plastic model kit decal sheet.
- ↑ Desert Arrow / Desert Lightning, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Cutscene 29, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War
- ↑ Green Hills, Aces At War: A History (2019), page 56
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Kazutoki Kono's reply to a question regarding Blaze's nickname