This sister article to our first Strangereal Study article comes from the point of view of an investigation. It does not assume the existence of the main subject, as its existence in Strangereal was not made public knowledge even after its destruction. This investigative approach allows for a unique way to learn about this subject. Traces of a hidden power behind the end of the Estovakian civil war can be found in translated in-universe materials, pilot records and in-game information from Ace Combat 6.
The defeat of the Lyes United Front (LUF) by the considerably outnumbered Eastern Faction may be accredited to more than tactical prowess or the strength of its air squadrons. The LUF had a considerable numerical advantage regarding sheer firepower near the end of the Estovakian Civil War. It is hard to believe that the Eastern Faction could capture 80% of their territory, then soundly defeat them in just over a week of combat, without the presence of an overwhelming new strategy or weapon deployed to the battlefield. We begin our analysis of the Eastern Faction's victory by reviewing a bold and seemingly impossible plan presented by the leader of the Eastern Faction.
The proposal was made before the outbreak of the civil war by Colonel General Gustav Dvornik. This man would later become the leader of the Eastern Faction and eventually the Supreme Commander of the Estovakian Army after the end of the civil war.
The Aerial Fleet Initiative sought the development of a new strategy for establishing and maintaining air superiority over broad areas. The system would be refined with long-range attack capabilities and deployment of air-launched carrier fighters. The term "air-launched fighters" seems to refer to an airborne version of the launch and recovery system found on a naval aircraft carrier. This would be ideal for a nation such as Estovakia; half of its national geography is mountainous, and it's proximity to the North Pole limits naval operations. The ultimate goal of this concept being the ability to hold control over large areas of land for extended periods of time.
At the time it was assumed to be impossible for Estovakia to amass the finances, resources or advanced technology needed to make it a reality. Even before the 1994XF04 Ulysses asteroid impact, the state of Estovakian domestic weapons technology was nowhere near developed enough to pursue such an audacious project.
Estovakian domestic weapons development was not a priority due to their reliance on importing weaponry. Estovakia had been procuring weapons for its military from the Union of Yuktobanian Republics and the Principality of Belka since 1970. Weapons imports from Belka ceased in 1995 after the principality's defeat in the Belkan War. The damaged caused by the Ulysses asteroid in 1999 devastated national infrastructure which would further setback any domestic weapons projects. In 2002, Estovakia was placed under weapons import restrictions via a strategic materials control act by the Republic of Emmeria, the Osean Federation, and other nations, due to Estovakia becoming unstable and armed factions beginning to form within its borders. An extended civil war would follow shortly afterwards and wouldn't end until 2014. These conditions are not conducive for a concerted weapons development project.
And yet, Estovakia nearly defeated the Republic of Emmeria in the EE War of 2015. When comparing the Emmerian military capability before the EE War to the combined combat potential of the Estovakian civil war armed factions at the height of the civil war - which arguably was a more significant force than the reformed Estovakian military after the civil war - Emmeria had more combat potential. How could Estovakia, still recovering from so much internal strife and economic setbacks, nearly defeat one of the best-organized armed forces in the world? Their military gained control of almost all of the Emmerian mainland in just two months of combat in 2015. That in itself is reminiscent of the Eastern Faction's sudden victory in the Estovakian Civil War.
Within the Shadows of the EE War
The investigation of the civil war's end leads us into Estovakia's future conflict in 2015. It is there that the presence of a hidden force begins to surface on a international scale. The opening Estovakian military strike of the EE War on August 30th, 2015 resulted in the capture of Gracemeria, the capital city of the Republic of Emmeria. After a brief success in blunting the Estovakian surprise attack, 70% of the responding Emmerian forces were destroyed by what was described as "huge fireballs" about 1 kilometer in diameter. These fireballs blanketed the airspace above Gracemeria. The reports of those explosions came in simultaneously with cruise missiles entering the area. The same cruise missiles and fireballs from August 30th would be seen time and time again as Emmerian forces retreated westward from the advancing Estovakian troops.
In September 2015, the Doypalm Bay Offensive in San Loma would be a crucial victory for Estovakian forces. With the capture of San Loma, Estovakian troops succeeded in pushing the bulk of what remained of the Emmerian military off the mainland. During this battle an eyewitness would surface, whose information was then coupled with a release of photos from the Union of Yuktobanian Republics. The February 26th, 2016 issue of Front Line military journal featured an eyewitness account from an anonymous Emmerian military officer. He had participated in the defense of San Loma in September 2015. Using the alias of "Mr. Allen" to protect his identity, his account detailed his effort to intercept cruise missiles flying towards San Loma, which resulted in the loss of his aircraft. After barely being able to eject from his plane, he landed safely and observed cruise missiles flying towards San Loma which exploded into fireballs above the combat area. Mr. Allen then witnessed two aircraft after he landed on a nearby beach. The first aircraft being a fighter jet painted black and red which entered San Loma from the same direction the cruise missiles were fired from. The second aircraft was massive, visible as far away as Mount Nix, which was 30 to 40 kilometers away from him at the time. Mr. Allen describes it as being "so enormous that its wings tore the clouds apart." This eyewitness account coincides with multiple rumors from Emmerian soldiers about a large plane that was spotted across various battlefields in Emmeria. The red and black fighter that was mentioned is believed to have been operated by the Estovakian Central Forces Precinct Air Force 370th Aviation Regiment, 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Strigon". This squadron was officially stationed in occupied Gracemeria throughout 2015. The Strigon squadron operated Su-33 Sea Flanker fixed wing fighters capable of launching from aircraft carriers. With no Estovakian held operational runways between San Loma and Gracemeria during that phase of the war, the aircraft must have received in-flight refueling or was launched from an aircraft carrier. However, it's least likely that it was launched from a naval vessel.
Su-33 Flanker-D operated by 9th TFS Strigon (Photographer: Fighterman)
It was revealed by the Union of Yuktobanian Republics that in April of 2015 one of their spy satellites spotted an unknown, massive aircraft. The aircraft, similar in design to a manta ray, remained airborne for three days. It flew from a coastline in southeastern Estovakia, then disappeared on the fourth day near the northeastern coastal area. In the vicinity of its point of disappearance was an oil drilling facility managed by Estovakia's Oil Development Corporation.
Research into the aforementioned oil drilling facility shows that it was previously abandoned for 18 years. The facility was abandoned in 1990 but repaired and expanded in 2008 by the Eastern Faction during the Estovakian Civil War. The oil drilling complex put in place after 2008 was far too large for the amount of oil estimated to be available for the area.
The Yuktobanian spy satellite images of the giant aircraft and oil drilling complex from April 2015, coupled with eyewitness reports of Emmerian troops during the EE War were used to estimate the size of the unidentified giant aircraft. The wingspan and length of the unknown giant aircraft were roughly as large as the oil drilling complex it mysteriously vanished near.
Compiling the available information implies the realization of the Aerial Fleet Initiative. But even then, skepticism remained from military analysts. Despite there being flight records of giant aircraft in the past, an aircraft of that size capable deploying and recovering other aircraft was unprecedented. The advancement in technology needed for Estovakia to construct such a weapon could still not be explained. This missing link would be discovered through the record of a pilot that came to Estovakia before the civil war.
Estimated Capability of Unknown Giant Aircraft
The following calculations came from military analyst Vincent Baldwin as published in Front Line military journal, 2/26/16 - a Strangereal canon magazine.
The 3000km-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 many aircraft.
Capable of deploying fighters and attackers while airborne.
The missing evidence that would explain the sudden technological leap would surface in the assault record of a pilot named Lorenz Riedel. Not an Estovakian born citizen, Riedel came to Estovakia from the Principality of Belka. His roots can be traced back to him being a member of the Belkan Air Force 18th Air Division, 5th Tactical Fighter Squadron in 1995. The squadron was lead by Commander Anton Kupchenko, who was once the chief engineer of Project Pendragon. This was an advanced weapons development program launched in the 1970s by the Principality of Belka. Among the new technology and weapons created was a giant airborne heavy command cruiser and burst missile technology.
Riedel and several other Belkan defectors managed to escape the post-war inquiries made by the Allied Forces by fleeing to Estovakia. Political ties between Estovakia and Belka are presumed to have been amicable during that time due to the import of Belkan weapons for decades. These Belkan defectors were later accredited with assisting in the development and construction of new technologies for the Estovakian military. Investigative reports also claim that the research brought with these defectors became the deciding factor in the Estovakian Civil War, though the type of information provided and new technologies developed was never completely clarified.
During the Emmerian counterattack in the EE War, the presence of the unknown giant aircraft, its purpose, and its capabilities were confirmed just before the Emmerian recapture of San Loma on February 15th, 2016. This battle plan utilized top secret information from Emmerian intelligence agents, many of whom had lost their lives gathering the data. This intelligence was coupled with missile samples, small unmanned aerial vehicle samples, radar records and analysis of all battles in which air bursting cruise missiles appeared. They were compiled into an attack plan to destroy the centerpiece of the invading Estovakian force.
Heavy Command Cruiser
In February 2016, the P-1112 Aigaion heavy command cruiser was identified by Emmeria as the flagship of the Estovakian Aerial Fleet; the final product of the Aerial Fleet Initiative. This fleet consisted of five massive aircraft centered around the abilities of the heavy command cruiser. Its escort P-1113 Gyges aerial battleships and P-1114 Kottos electronic support aircraft provided the Aigaion itself with electronic warfare support and more firepower if needed. The its long range strike capabilities, extended flight range and ability to launch aircraft was the driving force behind Estovakia's advance across the Emmerian mainland.
Though this was the first time the presence of the Aerial Fleet was confirmed outside of Estovakia, the P-1112 Aigaion had seen combat in the Estovakian Civil War in January 2013. The Eastern Faction deployed the Aigaion against the Lyes United Front in the final week of the war. The heavy command cruiser's overwhelming capabilities were joined with their elite flight squadrons, Strigon and Vampire. This was the true force behind the Eastern Faction's victory and the reunification of Estovakia beneath a military regime.
The concealment of Aigaion from public knowledge can be accredited to two things. First, the rebuilt and greatly expanded oil drilling complex controlled by the Eastern Faction in 2008. The size of that facility would allow for the construction of the heavy command cruiser and aircraft of similar size with no airborne or space-based reconnaissance asset capable of seeing it from above. Its appearance as a non-military related oil facility also deterred any suspicion. With the Aigaion being designed to operate on the ocean, it was most likely constructed in a secret facility within the oil drilling complex. With this facility being large enough to house the Aigaion, it would be able to be physically concealed at any time as well.
Second, following the end of the civil war and the reunification of Estovakia, many of the former members of the Eastern Faction became leaders of the new Estovakian central government. They believed that the misguided reconstruction efforts of Emmeria caused the civil war to occur and also extended the duration of the conflict. With this animosity within the Estovakian government and national military, the decision to conceal the P-1112 Aigaion comes of no surprise.
Officially, the existence of the Aigaion was not made public even after its destruction on February 20th, 2016. This is made evident by the fact that Front Line Magazine "Aerial Fleet Initiative", which was released on Feberuary 26th, 2016, did not confirm Aigaion's existence or destruction and could only present the possibility of an aircraft of such size existing. If its existence was made public after the EE War is unknown.
About the Writer
Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile.