Sand Island Air Force Base is a major location in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, and is the first setting of the story. It is where the pilots of The Unsung War were trained, and was also their base of operations for the first half of the game. The geography of the Sand Island is an old volcanic island that eroded into an atoll, over time. The remains of this volcano can be seen within the local area. One of the islands that is close to the base has mountainous features and provides evidence of this ancient volcano. Sand Island Air Force Base is the closest Osean Facility to the Yuktobanian Continent and the home of the 108th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the Osean Air Defense Force.
The Classified Training Incident (September 24th, 2010)
On September 24, 2010, days before the Circum-Pacific War officially began, Sand Island Air Force Base had confirmed unknown aircraft entering Sand Island's air corridor. At that time Sand Island ATC contacted Captain Jack Bartlett (callsign Heartbreak One), who was in the midst of training the rookies under him, with OBC reporter Albert Gennette as a guest. Heartbreak One and three other instructors climbed to intercept the unknown fighters, and the trainees were sent by Bartlett to a low altitude area to stay out of the fight. However, the Sand Island command room, in the words of Gennette, had "misplaced some zeroes," and gave Bartlett an incorrect altitude. The bogeys were actually right in front of the trainees. All but one of the trainees, Kei Nagase, were killed in action and only two instructors made it successfully to base; one of them being Jack Bartlett. The other instructor survived the fight, but crashed on landing, most likely due to a damaged aircraft.
Classified Pre-War Engagements (September 24th and 27th, 2010)
The remaining pilots of the 108th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Wardog" were Kei Nagase (callsign Edge) and the two trainees who weren't in the air during the attack: Alvin H. Davenport (callsign Chopper) and a pilot known only as Blaze, as well as their leader, Capt. Bartlett. The same day as the first attack, they were sent on an intercept mission supported by AWACS Thunderhead. The Osean ADEZ Air Defense System had successfully tracked, fired upon and damaged an SR-71 of unknown origin; the damaged aircraft was attempting to egress towards the Ceres Ocean. The 108th made contact with the recon aircraft and ordered it to land at a near by air strip, but they were attacked by multiple unknown armed aircraft. Though they were ordered to hold their fire, Capt. Bartlett ordered the squadron to engage in order to defend themselves. All unknown aircraft were destroyed.
Three days later on September 27th, a spy vessel was spotted near Sand Island, launching recon drones of unknown origin. The 108th was deployed from Sand Island to destroy the UAVs, but not engage the vessel. Upon destroying the final UAV, multiple aircraft entered the area and engaged the Wardog. Once again, the 108th fired without having clearance to fire and destroyed all aircraft. At the end of the battle the spy vessel fired a surface-to-air missile (SAM) at Wardog Two, Kei Nagase. However, Capt. Bartlett flew in front of the missile and took the missile strike. Bartlett ejected from his damaged aircraft, but was not able to be watched over by the 108th TFS. The 108th were ordered to return to Sand Island immediately because the Union of Yuktobanian Republics had just declared war against the Osean Federation and had launched an air raid on Port St. Hewlett. The 108th flew to Port St. Hewlett immediately after refueling and rearming. On the way, Nagase was told to lead the formation, but declined and told Blaze to lead.
At the end of the opening day of the war, the 108th had returned from defending the Osean 3rd Fleet at Port St. Hewlett. As the Wardog pilots began to rest and the sun set, Sand Island Air Force Base was suddenly attacked by a formation of Yuktobanian aircraft. The Wardog squadron managed to takeoff in the midst of the attack and destroyed the first wave of the attackers. As Lieutenant Colonel Ford, Wardog Leader, attempted to land (even though Sand Island air traffic controllers told him he couldn't land), he was suddenly shot down by the second wave of attackers. With Lt. Col. Ford KIA, Blaze was officially named the commander of the 108th. Between the first and second waves Airman First Class Hans Grimm (callsign Archer) joined the Wardog Squadron as Wardog Four and helped the squadron destroy the last of the Yuktobanian aircraft.
After the air raid, things at Sand Island were quite for a time. The only activity involved the 108th taking off from Sand Island over the next week was to cover the 3rd Osean Naval Fleet passing through the Eaglin Straights. On October 4th, 2010, wanting to establish a front-line base against Osea, the Yuktobanian Maritime Force launched a large amphibious fleet in order to take Sand Island. The Wardog Squadron and supporting trainees brought from Heierlark Air Force Base launched from Sand Island to repel the fleet, while Sand Island Air Force Base defense forces fought Yuktobanian forces on the island's beaches while being shelled by the amphibious fleet.
During the naval engagement, the Osean Air Defense Forces managed to destroy many of the lead Yuktobanian ships of the fleet. As the Osean aircraft continued the attack, an anti-submarine detection plane callsign "Blue Hound" detected submarine screw noise and identified the submarine as the 'Scinfaxi'. The Scinfaxi began firing burst-type cruise missiles at the Osean aircraft. With coordinates being transmitted from Blue Hound, the Osean Space Plane "Arkbird" engaged all Scinfaxi launched missiles from orbital altitude, with its Anti-Space Debris High Powered Laser Unit. After deflecting a volley of missiles, the Scinfaxi fired three in rapid succession. The Arkbird was unable to target one of them, which exploded and struck the Osean Air Defense Force trainees. The Arkbird then targeted the Scinfaxi and fired its laser into the Ceres Ocean, striking the Scinfaxi and forcing it to surface. The Scinfaxi then launched fighters to engage the OADF fighters. Wardog attacked the Scinfaxi until its defenses were knocked out, along with its ability to launch aircraft and cruise missiles. With the combined fire power of the Arkbird and the Wardog Squadron, the Scinfaxi was destroyed and the assualt ended. Months later, in the midst of the Yuktobanian ground campaign, the Wardog Squadron had successfully returned to base after providing support to Osean Self Defense Force units attacking Cruik Fortress and surviving a suprise attack from Belkan forces. Upon their arrival, the Wardog pilots were to be arrested since Captain Allen Hamilton, the base's Adjutant Commander, had accused them of espionage. The pilots eluded base security and with the help of Peter Beagle, known as "Pops," managed to escape the island in his trainer aircraft. From Sand Island Air Force Base, the squadron, now classified as "rogue," flew towards the Solo Islands. After eluding persuers for a time, they were shot down by OMDF pilot Capt. Marcus Snow (callsign Swordsman). When no bodies were found, they were listed as KIA. However, it is rumored that they actually survived, and formed the Ghosts of Razgriz.
When the war finally ended, the base was shut down and abandoned, now populated by colonies of seabirds, though Kirk is seen on the tarmac, suggesting that Pops still resides on the island.
- The Sand Island Air Force Base is based on the real-world Midway Islands, a series of islands in Hawaii that saw a decisive air and naval battle on June 4, 1942. This battle was the beginning of the end for the Japanese Navy. In fact the fourth mission, First Flight, is actually a reference to the Midway attack, except that this time the victor is the attacked, not the attacker.