- This mission is not considered part of Strangereal canon, and therefore has no corresponding operation page.
Time Limit is campaign mission 7C in Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception. It is only available if the player plays missions Blitz (9A) and In Pursuit I (11A) without playing Striking Point/The Wasteland (8A/8B), allowing the Leasath units on the Kalana Steppes to counterattack Santa Elva.
Eugene Solano: A band of Leasath stragglers found an opening in our military advance and have launched an assault on Santa Elva. The problem is that this particular band of stragglers is composed of members of the biological warfare special forces Hamlet Unit, who are in possession of the chemical agent Cynocrine. Although their numbers are too few to pose a major threat, the Cynocrine they're carrying is enough to wipe out an entire city. Prepare for sortie. In the event that that the enemy uses Cynocrine, a neutralization agent will have to be deployed to prevent the toxin from spreading.
An agent has been prepared for this situation, however, due to time constraints we had to make do with a rather unstable delivery device. If too much force is applied, there is a high probability that the container will rupture, resulting in an explosion. You will need to avoid over accelerating or turning sharply until we are certain that the chemical agent is no longer a threat. All special weapons during this mission will be equipped with the neutralizing agent. Please take the necessary precautions.
This is a particularly difficult mission that demands preparation. It is highly recommended to use an aircraft with high stability, mobility and Air-to-Air such as a tuned XFA-24A Apalis or, if "Standoff in the Skies II" has been completed, the F-15E Strike Eagle. A high Defense rating may prove potentially useful depending on the player's skill, making the YR-302 Fregata an optimal choice in that respect; however, the need for agility at the end of the mission makes the former two a much better choice.
At the start of the mission, the player enters Santa Elva from the northeast, with the first release of Cynocrine occurring in a small island. Starting from there, the gas is sequentially released in several points across the city, taking Gryphus One through a rough circuit from east Santa Elva, the southern tip of the central island, west Santa Elva and a second run through the northern central island, culminating with a warehouse in the mainland north of the original release site.
Gryphus One is given special bombs with chemical neutralizing agents as a secondary weapon, overriding any belonging to his chosen aircraft. The main opponent is the NTRL itself: the weapon is highly unstable and will explode if too much force (monitored in the Multi-Purpose Gauge) is applied, forcing one to limit themselves to smooth movements and using the Pitch Trim/Yaw controls for turning. Planes with high mobility may put too much stress on the bombs, which have a blast radius comparable to Unguided Bombs - certain gas plumes are located in urban areas, allowing one to strike nearby buildings and "destroy" them with the blast.
Adding to the difficulty of the mission, the player will come under attack by F-14D aircraft during the first run on the central island. The NTRL renders evasive maneuvers nearly impossible if certain aircraft are choice, and heavily armored planes may be needed if they cannot be dodged. While difficult, it is possible to engage them in combat and even shoot them down, reducing the numbers of targets at the end of the mission. Another effective strategy is to weave through the buildings at low altitude as the enemies would be reluctant to pursue the player.
Mission Update 1
When the warehouse has been sanitized, the player is given the task of destroying the F-14D reinforcements from the first half. At the start of the scene, Gryphus One disposes of the NTRL under Crux's orders prior to engaging them, leading to dialogue from the Hamlet Unit. It must be noted that, although the MPG disappears, the G-force limit remains active until the SP counter goes empty, and so caution must be exercised in the seconds after the sanitization of the final plume.
To achieve an S-rank, the player must complete the mission within 8 minutes.
- Star unit: E-767 — Appears above Santa Elva and flies in circles over the city during the Neutralizing Agent portion. Disappears if not shot down before all chemical gas sites are sanitized.
- Ace unit: F-35 Becrux — Spawns when all gas has been neutralized.
Eugene Solano: We succeeded in removing the threat to Santa Elva by neutralizing the Cynocrine. The Hamlet Unit was also eliminated. Still, it's disturbing to think that Leasath would go so far as to use biological weapons.
- Barring any canyon or tunnel missions, this is regarded as one of the hardest missions in the entire series, arguably harder than even Grand Flight. This is due in part to the conditions of the mission: going too fast or turning too sharply makes the NTRL explode, and fighters will be attacking as the NTRL is used.