Unlike most missiles featured in the Ace Combat series, ICBMs cannot be launched by a typical aircraft or surface-to-air missile launcher. They are usually fired from missile silos, which protect the missiles from enemy attack by storing and fueling them underground until they are ready to be used. Once primed, the ICBM can be fired vertical through the silo. Other methods of launching ICBMs include submarines, heavy trucks, and mobile rail launchers, but the added cost of mobility make these launch platforms less common.
When an ICBM is fired, it goes through three phases of flight:
- Boost phase: The missile is launched and its engines begin operation. The missile remains in an almost-vertical flight path until it reaches peak velocity, at which point the engines cease to function, break off, and fall back to the surface.
- Midcourse phase: The warheads enter low Earth orbit and continue to use the provided momentum from boost phase on an elliptical flight path as they approach their target. At the start of this phase, some missiles will also launch countermeasures or penetration aids, and may commence MIRV separation.
- Reentry phase: The warheads begin atmospheric re-entry. At this stage, they will fall to the surface and attempt to make impact with their intended targets.
Various methods exist for defending against an ICBM, most of which involve destroying the actual missile or launch platform before the missile can be fired or substantial damage can be done. Due to the difficulty in targeting a missile during midcourse phase, when it would be out of range of most conventional weapons and possibly utilize countermeasures, defense usually involves the boost or reentry phases.
The most common defense method depicted in Ace Combat is direct destruction of the missile by another aircraft. Typically the player will get within a close distance to the ICBM and use missiles or cannon rounds to simply destroy it. An alternate method involves vaporizing the missile with a laser such as the AL-1B's laser.
Following the Belkan nuclear detonations in 1995, weapons of mass destruction were greatly reduced in number. ICBMs were not outlawed or abandoned, but they were certainly less prevalent on Strangereal's Earth than on our real Earth. Their only known to had been used on the Usean and Osean continents.
In the last days of the Belkan War, the V2 was acquired by A World With No Boundaries and was loaded onto an ICBM in the Avalon Dam missile facility in an attempt to rid the world of global politics. The Galm Team, supported by the Allied Forces's Avalon Dam Strike Team, entered the facility's perimeter to halt the launch of the V2. The Galm Team performed a tunnel flight to destroy the control systems found inside. When the systems were destroyed, however, Cipher's former wingman Larry Foulke appeared flying the ADFX-02 Morgan, which has the back-up control systems to handle the V2 launch. Cipher shot down Foulke and in the process, the V2 exploded harmlessly in the atmosphere. 
At the end of the Usean Continental War, the Rebels attempted to utilize Fortress Intolerance to launch an ICBM against Yuktobania to cause a worldwide conflict and escape in the chaos. Phoenix disabled all of the fortress's defenses and successfully performed a tunnel flight into the fortress and destroyed the missile. The resulting explosion caused extreme damage to the fortress, rendering it useless.
After the Second Usean Continental War ended, Erusian forces brought Megalith online. While Megalith was a rocket launch facility designed to shoot down asteroids in orbit, the facility stored five missiles believed to be ICBMs. ISAF performed an offensive against the facility, and Mobius 1 physically destroyed the ICBMs. As with Fortress Intolerance, the resulting explosions destroyed the Megalith facility.
Assault Horizon universe
During the New Russian Federation uprising, Task Force 108 learned of an NRF-controlled ICBM launch facility within Russian territory. They deployed an RQ-4 Global Hawk to analyze the base in case a launch was ordered, as well as Razor to sneak into the launch facility and destroy all of the launch platforms. Razor successfully avoided the radar, but the NRF was given a launch order regardless (possibly by Sergei Illich, whose Red Moon Squadron was flying with Warwolf Squadron to support the operation). Razor managed to destroy all of the silos and most of the heavy trucks, but one truck had managed to escape the bombing. While all squadrons attempted to escape from the area, the Global Hawk UAV located the truck moving to launch position. By the time Razor turned around, the ICBM had been fired with a trajectory towards the United States. William Bishop flew in close range and managed to destroy the missile before it left boost phase.
Following the creation of the USEA Federation, Task Force 118 discovered the Avalon Dam facility in Russia. The facility was secretly an ICBM launch facility, and a launch was attempted on March 3, 2020. Task Force 118 deployed an AL-1B in case any missiles were launched, and performed a offensive against the facility. After opening the facility's shutters, Reaper flew inside and destroyed all of the missiles contained within. However, one missile was being stored outside of the facility and it was launched immediately. The AL-1B was shot down by unidentified hostiles, forcing all of 118's pilots to engage the missile before it left boost phase. Reaper managed to get the closest and successfully destroyed it.
During Task Force 118's various operations across the world, multiple ICBMs under USEA control have been launched from the Alps, Iyuli, and Moscow. 118's mercenary pilots continuously engage the missiles when they are discovered, hoping to destroy them during boost phase. It is unknown if any of them successfully hit their targets, or what their targets were.
- ICBMs should not be confused with cruise missiles. While they are similar in some aspects, the majority of an ICBM's trajectory is an unguided orbital flight whereas the majority of a cruise missile's trajectory is a guided low-altitude flight.
- ICBMs should also not be confused with intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), a classification of ballistic missiles with less range than ICBMs.
- In 1998, the Federation of American Scientists proposed a minimum range of 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles) for a missile to be considered intercontinental. However, no true standardization of an ICBM's minimum range has been established, and no ICBM ranges are provided in any Ace Combat game.
- ↑ The Valley of Kings. Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War.
- ↑ Zero. Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War.
- ↑ Fighter's Honor. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy.
- ↑ Megalith. Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies.
- ↑ Launch. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- ↑ Avalon. Ace Combat Infinity.
- ↑ ICBM Mission Update during Alps Air Corridor, Weapons Base Assault, and Moscow Battle. Ace Combat Infinity.
- ↑ Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Federation of American Scientists. Published October 25, 1998. Retrieved November 1, 2014.