The Let's Play Archive

Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War

by nine-gear crow

Part 9: Mission 9 - Operation Judgement, May 23rd, 1995

“Sword of Annihilation”

Mission 9: Operation Judgement – May 23rd, 1995

Overview: In order to stem further losses and press farther into the Belkan heartland, the Allied Forces launch an assault on Belka’s experimental anti-missile chemical laser installation Excalibur. As long as Excalibur is operational, Osea’s efforts to subdue Belka remain in jeopardy.

Galm Team and Crow Team are dispatched to Tauberg to remove Belka’s so-called “Sword of Annihilation”.

Guest Commentator: I am joined for Mission 9 of Ace Combat Zero by FPS shootmans games enthusiast Lazyfire. Lazyfire has done an ungodly lot of LPs, including Battlefields 3 and 4, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor.

He is currently working on an LP of Star Wars: Republic Commando. I show up in the 9th episode of that LP too, coincidentally.





This is the other big, culturally ubiquitous HEYGUYSDOYOUKNOWABOUTKINGARTHUR?!!! namedrop of the game. Also known by Caliburn (among other names), Excalibur was the sword of King Arthur, a magical blade of unearthly origins said to be indestructible and served as a token of proof of Arthur’s royal lineage and his rightful kingship over Great Britain.

Excalibur has two popularly accepted and equally valid origins in the Arthurian mythos. The first version is the “Sword in the Stone” origin, which gave rise to works like the Disney animated movie of the same name. This origin cropped up in Robert de Boron’s poem Merlin, where the sword prefigures Arthur and stands as a perplexing mystery; an otherwise pristine blade seemingly sprouting from an unassuming stone (in other versions it’s a smithy’s anvil) with no apparent division between sword and stone (or anvil). Only the rightful king of England was said to be able to remove the sword from the stone. Many brave souls tried, but all failed to even jostle it. Then along came Arthur, and well, you know the rest.

The second, slightly less well-known but more modern origin sees Arthur (already king at this point) bestowed the blade by the Lady of the Lake, the ruler of the island of Avalon. He wields the sword from that point on until his death, where he instructs Sir Bedivere (one of the few surviving Round Table knights still loyal to Arthur at the time of Camelot’s fall) to return the sword to the lake on Avalon from whence it came and throw it into the water. When he tosses the blade into the lake, the Lady of the Lake’s arm emerges and catches it, returning to the water with it. And that’s the last it’s seen of.

Excalibur also had several magical abilities in addition to being indestructible. It could blind enemies with the brightest of lights when held aloft. Its scabbard also prevented its wielder from bleeding to death from injuries sustained in battle, and in some readings, preventing their wounds from bleeding at all. The scabbard was later stolen by Morgan le Fay in revenge for the death of her lover Accolon of Gaul, and cast into a lake, never to be found again, thus robbing Excalibur of its defensive attributes.

The sword shares an origin of sorts with the blade Gram, the sword of the Norse hero Sigurd and the blade he killed the dragon Fafnir with. It originally belonged to Sigurd’s father, Sigmund, after Odin appeared on Midgard one day and flung it into the tree Barnstokkr, and challenged all those present to try their luck at dislodging it. After many tries from many warriors, Sigmund finally succeeded and claimed the blade for himself. Odin then got incredibly pissed that he was shown up by a mere mortal so he cursed Sigmund, his descendants, and the rest of the Völsung family, thus beginning in earnest the narrative of the Norse epic of the Völsunga Saga (which is great and you really should read a translation of it if get the chance to).

Odin then shows up later to act as a mentor to Sigurd and never once mentions that he’s the reason Sigurd’s family fell from power, were all murdered (or worse), and why Sigurd had been living a life of secretive seclusion in the woods since childhood like he was Aragorn or something (whom he inspired, BTW).

Because Odin’s a prick.

Beyond that, Excalibur is basically one of the go-to sword names in popular culture around the world. Other famous named swords (real and imagined) include Caliburn (Excalibur’s alt-name), Joyuse (the sword of King Charlemagne) Durandal (the sword of Charlemagne’s war leader Roland), Cortana (the “Sword of Mercy” and blade of Sir Tristan of the Round Table), Claíomh Solais (the Irish Sword of Light, often conflated with the sword of King Nuada of the Tuatha Dé Danann), or Kusanagi (the “Grass-Cutting Sword,” and rough Japanese analog to Excalibur, though only in a ceremonial capacity).


The name of the town where this mission takes place near is called Tauberg. The word “tauberg” is German for, I’m not making this up, “Mountain Dew”. According to the Ace Combat Zero Japanese website, Tauberg lies just north of the Waldreich Mountain range, in the middle of a vast lowland old growth forest which is home to over 200 species of birds and 60 species of mammals including foxes, bears, and deer. So of course Belka shoved a giant laser tower right in the middle of it.

Ustio Air Force 6th Air Division, 4th Air Force Unit
AWACS Operator: “Eagle Eye”
Squadron Composition: F-16C Fighting Falcon (x3)

A three-man flight of F-16s hailing from the foreign mercenary forces also attached the Ustio Air Force’s 6th Air Division. After previous solo engagements, in light of the losses incurred from the Excalibur laser installation, the Allied Forces GHQ decided to consolidate its squadron deployments, placing smaller teams together as a single operational air group, while still maintaining their individual squadron autonomy while on sortie. Following the failure of Operation Dynamo, it was decided that the Crow and Galm squadrons would handle joint assignments for the remaining duration of the war, effectively turning two three- and two-man flights into a single five jet formation.

Of the three pilots comprising the squadron, the names of the flight’s number one and two pilots have been lost to the heavy redaction of the official records of the Belkan War. Only the name of Crow 3, Lt. Patrick James Beckett (callsign “PJ”) has been released to the public. Being the youngest of the trio, Beckett was constantly ribbed by his wingmates, particularly for his not-so-descrete love affair with a member of the ground crew back at Valais AFB.

Beyond that, there’s not really that much to say about Crow Team as it stands beyond the fact that they are one of a number of essentially “Hufflepuff squadrons” to borrow a term from Harry Potter. IE: supportive background characters who exist to add a degree of colour and flavor to missions while still being functionally unimportant. They start out small in games like Zero, but by the time we get to Ace Combat 6, practically half the cast will be members of Hufflepuff squadrons.

Because bite me.
Real Name: Patrick James Beckett
Callsign(s): PJ, Crow 3
Age: 23
Sex: Male
Nationality: Ustio (unverified)
Signature Plane: F-16C Fighting Falcon
Voice Actor: Johnny Yong Bosch
On-Camera Actor: None

A young mercenary who joined the Allied Forces counterstrike operation on Belka as a fighter pilot. Despite his youth and inexperience, he proved a be a quick study behind the stick of an F-16 and was attached to the Ustio Air Force’s Crow Squadron shortly after commencement of counter attack operations.

Being the low man on the Crow totem pole, he was constantly teased by his fight mates, mostly for his youth and seeming naiveté and at times over excitement. Despite his position as a mercenary, Beckett holds himself to a strong code of honour, similar to the Belkan knights of old. In that light, he can be seen as a reflection of Pixy’s younger days before his ideals and altruistic streak were dampened by the realities of war.

Beyond that, little is known about his background or history prior to his involvement with Galm Team. It is implied, however, that he is of wealthy or upper-middle class origins, as one of his favourite stated sports is polo, a game normally played by douchebags wealthier sportsman.

I’m just gonna come right out and say it out front: I don’t really like PJ all that much. There’s a whole slew of reasons why I don’t, but deviling into them right now would basically break the game in two in terms of spoilers, so just keep that in the back of your mind for now.


And now for a word on the proper centerpiece of this mission. The chemical laser tower codenamed “Excalibur” was constructed by the Belkans in the late 1980s to be used as a long-range missile defense installation to protect the Belkan homeland from the threat of a potential nuclear or conventional cruise missile strike by Osea, Yuktobonia, or Erusea during the waning days of the Cold War. It was one of a number of so-called “super weapons” developed by the Belkans as part of Project Pendragon overseen by the South Belkan Munitions Factory company.

Construction of the Excalibur site began on December 17th, 1989 several miles outside the forest town of Tauberg in the Waldreich foothills of southern Belka. Construction proceeded smoothly until an armed riot by animal rights and land conservation activists in May of 1990 forced the Belkan military to declare the Excalibur construction site off limits to civilians. From that point forward, Excalibur remained under heavy guard, even in peace time, to ward off potential acts of vandalism or terrorism.

By October 8th, 1990, the facility’s rail-based tactical laser systems (RTLS), and main cooling towers were installed and deemed ready for operations testing, but the main tower meant to house the projection matrix for the laser did not begin construction until 1993 due to repeated delays on account of technical difficulties in scaling up the laser from the original test models. By August 9th, 1993, Excalibur was officially proclaimed to be completed, though it would be another year before an independent team of scientists and engineers certified it for operation.

On July 18th, 1994, Excalibur conducted its first official laser strike against a designated target and was deemed officially operational by the Belkan government.

The following year, in May of 1995, Excalibur scored its first registered combat kills as Belka hastily repurposed it from a defensive installation into an offensive platform. During the Allied siege of the Hydrian Line, Excalibur was used to covertly shoot down a squadron of Ustian fighters over the fortress complex of Glatistant. Two days later, on May 19th, 1995, its full power was turned loose against the Allies on Schayne Plains where it succeeded in turning back an otherwise successful assault on the Belkan second line of defense across the plains, downing a flight of Allied transport planes and several fighter squadrons in seconds.

Standing a full kilometer tall, Excalibur was powered by an underground power generator and an array of solar panels surrounding the tower, and regulated by four cooling tower facilities. The focusing lens atop its spire was capable of discharging a concentrated laser beam with a total energy output of 1.21 gigawatts. An array of satellites and dirigible craft with reflective mirrors was also deployed to extend and focus the beam on to long range targets, giving Excalibur an estimated total operational range of approximately 1,200 km.

If these figures are indeed true then every Allied national capital on North Osea was within its firing range including Oured, Gran Rugido, and Directus.

The Excalibur installation was ultimately destroyed on May 23rd, 1995 by Ustio’s Galm and Crow squadrons, specifically by Galm 1 “Cipher”.

Aircraft featured in Mission 9: Operation Judgement.

F-16C Fighting Falcon
Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin (formerly General Dynamics)
Role: Multi-role air superiority fighter
Manufactured: 1973-Present
Status: In Service
Primary Operators: United States, Israel, Iraq, Greece, Italy, Egypt, UAE, Pakistan, South Korea
Quick Facts:

Also known as the “Fighting Falcon.” Small and light-weight, this aircraft is a well-balanced fighting machine for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.

Missiles: 60
XMAA: 12
UGBL: 14

KC-10 Extender
Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas
Role: Airborne refueling tanker
Manufactured: 1981-Present
Status: In Service
Primary Operators: United States, Netherlands
Quick Facts:

Medal: Broken Sword
Awarded for: Destroying all RTLS batteries in Mission 9 “Sword of Annihilation”.
Description: Awarded for destroying the laser canon Excalibur and the surrounding facilities.

Helmut Schumacher
25, Male, Belka
05.23.95 Operation Judgement - Killed In Action
F-2A Viper Zero
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Mercenary (Appears after all four jamming facilities are destroyed)

Schumacher's father was a commanding officer in the Belkan military, who had followed in the footsteps of countless ancestors. An officer candidate himself, his future seemed already written but was cut short when his plane was shot down in Mid-south Belka.

Sigwald Entenmann
25, Male, Belka
05.23.95 Operation Judgement - Shot Down
F-15S/MTD "Active" Eagle
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Soldier (Appears after all four jamming facilities are destroyed)

Joined the Belkan Air Force in 1988. During the war, he always placed himself in the front line. There are no merits in particular
to note, but his patriotism and sense of duty brought him much respect within his troop.

Luca Wolfrum
31, Male, Belka
05.23.95 Operation Judgement - Shot Down
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Knight (Appears after all four jamming facilities are destroyed)

In 1991, Wolfrum transferred from test pilot to the Special Operations Air Force Unit 160. Capable of skillfully maneuvering any aircraft, he participated countless special operations. He was only been shot down once.

Jens Thon
28, Male, Belka
05.23.95 Operation Judgement - Killed In Action
SR-71 Blackbird
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Any (Appears after all four jamming facilities are destroyed)

Fighting from the age of twenty as a mercenary in conflicts throughout the world, upon returning home he enlisted in the official air force. Having fought as a mercenary, his various military connections garnered him a respect of many. He was buried in his home town at the base of Mt. Gerarhe in the Gilberto Mountains.

Ulrich Stekelenburg
34, Male, Belka
05.23.95 Operation Judgement - Shot Down
EA-6B Prowler* Special Paint Colour Unlocked
Difficulty: Ace
Ace Style: Any (Appears after all four power generators are destroyed)

A pilot adept at disrupting enemy radar and an expert in the field of ECM. After the war, he was offered a position with Hartwig Bremer at the Osean Ministry of Technology. He is now doing well as a researcher in the field of enemy aerial defense force countermeasures.

Literature discussed in Mission 9, Operation Judgement:

My Tank Is Fight! by Zack “Geist Editor” Parsons, Citadel Press, Kensington Publishing, 2006.

Former Baseball Player Sucks At Crowdfunding: A Time Travel Adventure by Dan Ryckert and friends, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2013.


In 2013, author Dan Ryckert began a crowdfunding campaign with the sole purpose of mocking an unnamed former professional athlete. This athlete had started his own crowdfunding campaign that was woefully unsuccessful, so Ryckert set out to raise more money than his rival while offering nothing of value to its backers. The handsome 29 year-old writer was successful, bringing in thousands of dollars and fully financing his lifelong goal of getting sweet seats for WrestleMania. While Ryckert was successful, his initial plan of writing a book about the real-life figure was derailed when he realized that it was probably something he could totally get sued for. As a result, he wrote a different book that is entirely fictional and is based on no real life figures or events. He promised his backers nothing of value, and this book makes good on that promise. Enlisting the help of his friends in the gaming industry, in Hollywood, and in the world of improv comedy, Former Baseball Player Sucks At Crowdfunding: A Time Travel Adventure chronicles the entirely fictional adventures of one super-fictional former athlete that isn't based on anyone. Will the steroid-infused idiot find a way to end his chaotic ordeal? Will he ever find peace with the fact that his penis is just the smallest thing in the world? Learn the answers to these questions and more in this thrilling work of fiction.


And now some behind the scenes artwork and screenshots of Excalibur and its construction.


Note how literally every capital is in Excalibur’s range. Belka could have ended the war in an afternoon by blowing up Oured and yet… They didn’t.

Tracks featured in Mission 9: Operation Judgement.