FRONT LINE Special Issue: The Aerial Fleet is a World News magazine published by FRONT LINE on February 26, 2016. It discusses how the Estovakian military managed to gain the upper hand in the Emmeria-Estovakia War through their Aerial Fleet. Additionally, it details how the Aerial Fleet Initiative came to fruition.
It was one of the three in-universe pieces of media to help promote Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation.
Five months have passed since the outbreak of the Emmeria-Estovakia War - EE War. Having succeeded in defending Khesed Island, the Emmerian Army has now landed at Rargom Beach located in the western Anean continent to advance toward the capital city. Although the Emmerian military had suffered a crushing defeat, its military strength has been built up little by little. Emmerian forces that have gathered to regroup so far must be regarded as resistance by the Estovakian forces, which has put most Emmerian territories under control. They can't be optimistic about this situation. However, it has turn out that Estovakia's war scenario is supported by the existence of a certain weapon.
Estovakia's Total War Potential After The Civil War
On August 30, 2015, the Estovakian forces crossed the border to invade Gracemeria, the capital of Emmeria. Although well armed and highly skilled, the Emmerian forces were forced to retreat from the capital due to the onslaught of the Estovakian forces. Two months later, the Estovakian forces took control of most Emmerian territories.
"This sky belongs to us Estovakians. They'll remember that soon enough." Even centrist politicians make a remark like this on national TV broadcast almost as if the war was already won. In fact, they are sure of winning the war. They believe in their war potential that enabled them to defeat the Emmerian forces, one of the best organized military in the world, and take over mainland Emmeria. But how did it come to this? Estovakia had been through the long-term civil war. Even the total sum of the Eastern Faction, the Lyes United Front, the Island Coalition, the Northern Highlands and others wouldn't have been such a large scale as to defeat and conquer Emmeria. How could this military might be possible after all?
The Heart of the EE War Becoming Visible
We were able to obtain an intriguing testimony from a fighter pilot from the Emmerian Air Force, Mr. Allen, who participated in the Battle of San Loma in September. On that day, he was on patrol over San Loma - Allow us to call him Mr. Allen for security reasons since he is a military officer currently engaged in wartime duties. Your understanding is appreciated.
"The air controller told me in an upset tone that a cruise missile was approaching. On hearing it, I headed east to intercept it." Soon after, Mr. Allen detected the cruise missile and tried to shoot it down. At that moment, the cruise missile exploded midair, creating a huge fireball. Mr. Allen managed to avoid getting involved, but lost the control of his aircraft because of the shock waves from the explosion. He barely bailed out and landed on a beach 20 km away. There he kept watching the cruise missiles passing overhead one by one. They kept turning into fireballs as if to completely consume San Loma.
"As I looked east, another aircraft came into my sight. At first, I thought it was a wingman of the jet that just passed by. But it wasn't. It was so enormous that its wings tore the clouds apart. That thing was seen beyond Mount Nyx, so I guess it was 30 or 40 km away from me."
As far as military white papers are concerned, there is no evidence that supports the existence of an enormous plane, and no nation has owned such a plane or run a flight experiment. Even so, it is highly unlikely that an unidentified airplane was flying the airspace over the warring country. Hence, it is assumed that the giant airplane is part of the air power that Estovakia possesses. In addition, the rumor is going around that many Emmerian soldiers have witnessed an enormous plane on various battlefields, but there has been no official word on this information from spokespersons of both nations.
The Aerial Fleet Initiative
However, there is a clue to this; The Aerial Fleet initiative, a military program proposed by the Estovakian military. This was proposed by Colonel General Dvornik from the Eastern Faction, current Supreme Commander of the Estovakian Army. It was defined as 'a new strategy and tactics of establishing and sustaining air superiority over wide areas.' Originally, the plan was, so to speak, to develop and organize an system that covers the entire airspace of the Anean Continent. This system was thought to be perfected with attack capabilities using long range missiles and the deployment of air-launched carrier fighters.
The deployment of air-launched carrier fighters possibly refers to operating an aircraft capable of carrying, launching, and retrieving carrier fighters just like a naval aircraft carrier, but it was assumed that the realization of this would require a vast amount of financial resources and extremely advanced technology. However, most of the equipments of the Estovakian forces have been procured from the Principality of Belka or Yuktobania since 1970, which means that their domestic weapon development capability is nothing notable. Also, in 1995, the Principality of Belka, the largest supplier of weapons, was defeated in the Belkan War, and in 2002, Estovakia, whose domestic affairs were deteriorating, was designated as an object country of strategic materials export control by the participating states such as superpower Osea and Emmeria. These events made it even more difficult for Estovakia to incorporate new technology from other nations. Furthermore, in those days, the country was still suffering from the damage caused by Ulysses, so the realization of it seemed impossible.
But could it be that the current strong military might of the Estovakian forces was attained due to this Aerial Fleet Initiative which once seemed nearly impossible? The tactics employed in the battle of San Loma had a lot in common with the Aerial Fleet Initiative. Also, the red and black fighter jet witnessed by Mr. Allen likely belongs to the 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the Estovakian Air Force currently stationed in Gracemeria. If the 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron took off from Gracemeria and fought an air battle over San Loma, there must have been an in-flight refueling since there is no operational runway or air base between San Loma and Gracemeria. If not, then they must have launched from an aircraft carrier. But Estovakia is close to the North Pole, which means that the sea is glaciated. It's least likely they took off from a naval carrier.
It has been announced that the giant airplane that Mr. Allen witnessed had been captured by Yuktobania's spy satellite in April 2015. It was first spotted over a coastal area in southeastern Estovakia. It looked liked a manta ray, with the full width if about 700m - 1 km, and the full length of 200 - 400m. It kept flying in Estovakian territory for three days, and disappeared on the fourth day in a northern-east offshore area of Estovakia. Near the area where it disappeared is a large oil drilling facility run by Estovakia's Oil Development Corporation. This facility was once abandoned in 1990, but was confiscated and repaired by the Eastern Faction in 2008. Then, an oil drilling complex which is too large for the estimated amount of oil was built there. We showed Mr. Allen a satellite photo of this complex, and he said that "the plane's wings are as big as this."
Huge fireballs, believed to be created by the cruise missiles, were witnessed by many during the air raid on Gracemeria, and according to what they saw, multiple fireballs about 1 km in diameter showed up simultaneously as if to devour the whole space. All capable planes in Gracemeria Air Base were scrambled. The 2nd Carrier Air Wing which was on maneuvers over the sea nearby and the 9th Brigade of the Ground Force were also called to the capital's defense, only to lose 70% of them to the fireballs. Since then until November 2015, huge fireballs were witnessed here and there as the Emmerian forces retreated.
The Predicted Future of the Anean Continent
From the outline of the Aerial Fleet Initiative and many witnesses, Military analyst Vincent Baldwin appraised its firepower and attack capabilities, and talked about a possible future yet to come. By his reckoning;
- The 3000 km-range cruise missile with an up-to-date guidance system. Its shock waves embroil wide areas.
- 72 hour flight ability. Capable of firing the cruise missile consecutively. Capable of carrying a number of aircraft.
- Capable of deploying fighters and attackers in the air.
This Aerial Fleet is comprised of aircraft. Hence, it is free from any geographical influence, capable of deploying aircraft anywhere on the planet, and able to attack the target with its cruise missiles. Extremely simply put, it can maintain air superiority and invade the opposing country without occupying the runways. On top of that, its mobility and 3 day flight ability facilitate maintaining air superiority for a long time, which will be quite effective especially in a country like Estovakia about half of whose territory is covered with mountain ranges. It will function well also in a very large country like Osea and Yuktobania, let alone in a country such as Emmeria. It is believed that it can fight an air battle on its own, but its firepower may be reduced to half in a close range air combat because it will be unable to use the cruise missiles. Even so, there are more merits than demerits about the Aerial Fleet Initiative. Military achievements this will bring can blot out its weak point.
Concerning the possibility of the realization of the Aerial Fleet Initiative, however, Mr. Baldwin is skeptical due to problems regarding technology and funds required for it. He compared and contrasted the war potential of the Estovakian forces of the current time and of the Civil War period, and only commented that "some kind of reinforcements were probably added." This will be revealed through the Estovakian forces' measures against the Emmerian forces that are starting to initiate counterattacks to regain the capital.
Mr. Baldwin concluded the analysis by saying that "There are flight records of supersize aircraft in the past, but, as far as I know, an aircraft that can carry and deploy carrier jets is unprecedented in history. If the Aerial Fleet Initiative has already been realized, then it proves to be a dreadful weapon that will upset the military balance of the world. It will be perceived as a threat not only to Emmeria but to the whole world."