- "And this path shall go on, as long as the blaze of fire that shines through the darkness is not extinguished."
- ― Harling
Vincent Harling[a] was the 48th President of the Osean Federation and a strong proponent of peace and international cooperation. Harling was elected to at least two consecutive four-year terms of office in 2004 and 2008.
In 2019, Trigger was accused of assassinating Harling during a rescue mission to save him from Erusean forces at the International Space Elevator. In reality, he was killed by an unknown party faking an Osean IFF at the behest of Erusea.
When Harling entered office, the world was in crisis: the international community was still recovering from the planetfall of Ulysses 1994XF04; Osea, which had assumed control of South Belka after 1995, was preoccupied with rebuilding and incorporating the war-torn territory; and existing tensions between the Usean nations had recently erupted into a full-scale war. In line with his peaceful principles, Harling kept the Federation neutral and out of the Continental War.
The Osean economy continued to flourish during Harling's first four years in office, and his administration maintained Osea's friendly relations with the Union of Yuktobanian Republics. Much to the chagrin of his hawkish political opponents, Harling slashed the Federation's defense budget in order to fund the construction of Basset Space Center, a cooperative effort by both Osea and Yuktobania. In hopes of solidifying relations between the two superpowers, the space center was intended to be the first step towards the realization of an international space station.
2008 G7 Summit and Arkbird Declaration
Following his successful first term, Harling was reelected to office with a larger majority 48,562,134 votes. After a terrorist attack resulted in the cancellation of the 2007 G7 Summit, Harling chose to host the 2008 conference aboard Osea's Arkbird spacecraft (in his words, a place "beyond [national] boundaries").
At the meeting, it was decided that the Arkbird would be used to clear Earth's orbit of the lingering Ulysses fragments that periodically impacted the surface; furthermore, Harling contributed to the historic nuclear disarmament initiatives that were established between Osea and Yuktobania, including the push for a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and renewal of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. A number of high-ranking ODF officers consequently resigned in protest of Harling's disarmament initiatives.
Circum-Pacific War (2010)
In late September, during the 2010 Osean airspace intrusions, reports coming into Bright Hill from the west coast described unknown hostile fighters engaging and killing Osean airmen. For the time being, Harling stayed the Osean military's response. Then, on September 27, Yuktobania declared war on the Osean Federation and launched a simultaneous air raid on St. Hewlett harbor.
In the wake of the devastating losses at Eaglin Straits, Harling approved the launch of an SSTO craft to reequip the Arkbird with its laser-cannon module, which had been removed as part of the disarmament process following the Arkbird Declaration. After its failed attempt to invade Sand Island, Yuktobania temporarily ceased offensive operations. Although details remain uncertain, it is believed that sometime around October 4, Harling began diplomatic communications with Yuktobanian Prime Minister Seryozha Viktrovich Nikanor.
Ignorant as to why Yuktobania had suddenly renounced 15 years of friendship, Harling arranged to discreetly meet with Nikanor at the neutral country of North Point and begin peace talks. North Point was sufficiently far enough away from the conflict and deemed a safe meeting site for the two statesmen.
On October 22, 2010, Harling boarded a C-5 transport plane, callsign "Mother Goose One", and headed for North Point. Due to the mission's secrecy, an official presidential transport could not be used, and the aircraft did not transmit an IFF signal which may identify the president. As Mother Goose One passed over the Akerson Hill region in western Osea, the Osean Coastal Defense Force's automated anti-aircraft system fired upon and damaged Harling's transport.
Luckily for Harling, Wardog Squadron, which was performing a routine air patrol nearby, guided Mother Goose One safely through the SAM defenses. Suddenly, Yuktobanian fighters entered the airspace, and a spy in the transport's crew shot the captain and copilot. Harling, under the pseudonym "Mr. Cargo", manned the transport's radio while his secretary assumed the controls.
When multiple engines failed, Mother Goose One was forced to perform an emergency landing. After successfully landing in the fields of Akerson Hill, the 8492nd Squadron appeared to relieve Wardog and provide assistance for Harling. In reality, the 8492nd Squadron was a group of Belkan operatives in league with the Grey Men, who captured Harling shortly afterward and imprisoned him within Stier Castle in southern Belka.
Absence from office
Harling's absence in Oured was not immediately recognized, as the vice president, Appelrouth, quietly assumed the presidency and began furthering the Osean war effort. Ten days after Harling's abduction, Osea launched an invasion of mainland Yuktobania, which resulted in considerable loss of life in both nations.
During this time, Harling was confined to his cell overlooking Ground Zero of one of the 1995 Belkan nuclear detonations. By early December, word was spreading that Harling had not been sighted around the capital for several weeks.
On December 9, 2010, nearly a month and a half after his capture by the 8492nd Squadron, Harling was rescued from Stier Castle by Sea Goblin and the former Wardog Squadron. Harling was taken to the Osean aircraft carrier Kestrel, which had been stationed at Kirwin Island.
Ending the war
The day after Harling's rescue, the intelligence vessel Andromeda received a coded transmission. Harling discerned that the message was intended for him, as the mysterious number sequences which punctuated it were the total votes he had won in the 2004 and 2008 elections. Harling also turned the former Wardog Squadron into his personal defense squadron, known as the Razgriz Air Command Squadron.
After Blaze retrieved photographic evidence of Belka's attempts to remove nuclear warheads from a storage facility in Mount Schirm, Harling ordered the destruction of the site. Over the coming week, Harling dispatched the Razgriz to eliminate the threat of the two nuclear warheads that had been smuggled to Belkan aggressors in Osea and Yuktobania. On December 19, Harling ordered the Arkbird's destruction in order to prevent a nuclear attack on Okchabursk, Yuktobania.
After the Arkbird was shot down, Harling broadcast his voice in an attempt to expose the truth behind the war; however, the Osean officials deemed it "enemy propaganda" and censored Harling's words. The president subsequently left the Kestrel with Sea Goblin team and returned to Oured to retake his office.
On December 30, at 2200hrs, Harling held a press conference at Bright Hill with Nikanor, who (like Harling) had been freed from captivity several days earlier. In his address, Harling revealed the reason behind his absence and that the war had been manufactured by those with ill-will towards Osea and Yuktobania. Harling also alluded to the existence of V2 and urged both Osean and Yuktobanian forces to aid the Razgriz Squadron as it infiltrated Sudentor to destroy the SOLG control center.
In the years following the war, Osea, under Harling's leadership, improved relations with countries in Usea with the International Space Elevator.
At the 2013 Osean Federation Supreme Council Meeting, Harling announced that all information pertaining to the "Belkan Conflict" would be released to the public in 2020. Harling affirmed that only time would "shed light on the truth behind the conflict", and expressed his optimistic view of the future, stating that the world had "already begun to head down a new path."
The Osean Federation Council Meeting's date in 2013 is unknown, therefore it is unclear if Harling had been reelected prior to the Council Meeting.
Harling was still known and looked up to in 2019 for building Osean relations with Usea.
On May 15, 2019, Harling was inspecting the International Space Elevator when Erusean forces captured the facility. He was accompanied by a military officer, Colonel Johnson, who managed to keep the both of them safe from harm while waiting for a chance to escape.
Upon the arrival of allied forces, Harling got into a V-22 with Johnson, using the callsign Mother Goose One once more. As they were exiting the airspace, Mother Goose One was hit by enemy fire and Colonel Johnson was killed. For unknown reasons, the damaged aircraft turned back towards the space elevator. It was presumed that Harling was now piloting the aircraft. AWACS Sky Keeper repeatedly tried to make contact with Harling to no avail.
Continuing its return to the space elevator, Mother Goose One was swarmed by UAVs. A missile suddenly struck the V-22, causing it to explode and killing Harling. Trigger was blamed for firing the missile and was found guilty of murdering Harling.
It was later revealed that the Erusean Radicals were the true culprits behind his assassination, having utilized Belkan technology to utilize fake IFF designations and installing them on Erusean aircraft disguised as Osean fighters, which were ultimately responsible for his death.
- It is currently a point of contention whether Georg or a UAV was responsible for the murder of Harling.
- Georg is described in his Japanese bio as being "involved in the Trigger incident". Similarly, Trigger's bio reads that "in the wake of a certain incident, he is sent to a penal unit". Putting these two together implies that Georg was responsible for the murder of Harling.
- Édouard Labarthe's dialogue in Last Hope seems to imply that a UAV was responsible, but doesn't explicitly say that this was the case. However, in the cutscene following Harling's death, a mysterious F/A-18F Super Hornet flies past the player, the framing of the scene implying this aircraft was responsible.
- F/A-18Fs are additionally known to have drone variants in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, though this particular aircraft seems to lack distinguishing lights that all other conventional fighters converted into UAVs possess in Ace Combat 7. Whether this particular aircraft was intended to be a UAV or not is unknown.
- Vincent Harling (ヴィンセント・ハーリング Vinsento Hāringu)
- WAR IS OVER: The end of the Lighthouse War (2019), "Dark Blue", Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
- File:GAZE Vincent Harling.png
- "Rescue", Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
- "Aces, Demons, and Ghosts: Mysterious Heroes of the Belkan Conflict". Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- "Last Hope", Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
- Cutscene 21, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- "Friction Comes to the Surface of the Refugee Problem", GAZE: War? Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- Cutscene 10, Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War.
- "Countries Unite to Counter Erusea; "ISAF" Established", GAZE: War? Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- Cutscene prior to White Bird (Part I), Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- "Accelerating the Peace Process", GAZE: Arkbird Declaration Summit 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- "Ark After Stonehenge", GAZE: Arkbird Declaration Summit 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- "Arkbird Declaration", GAZE: Arkbird Declaration Summit 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- Cutscene 18, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Cutscene 02, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Open War, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Narrow Margin, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Rendezvous, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- White Bird (Part I), Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Handful of Hope, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Ancient Walls, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Journey Home, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Closure, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- White Bird (Part II), Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Cutscene 22, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Cutscene 26, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Aces At War: A History 2019, page 039.
- Cutscene 29, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- "444", Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown