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"Colonel, watch yourself. They have half the world's anti-air down there!"
― Warwolf 3

Pipeline is the eighth mission in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. It is the first mission set in the Russian Federation and is the first mission to feature Air Strike Mode.

Plot

Though the attack on the city of Dubai was stopped, no Trinity weapons were discovered. In truth, the battle there were a distraction for several Trinity attacks on several military bases in Russia by the newly formed New Russian Federation, funded by Blatnoi. They have swiftly taken control of Moscow and maintain a strong grip on the Black Sea and Caucasus Regions. The coup is led by General Ivan Stagleishov and a former Russian ace turned mercenary named Andrei Markov, who was the liaison between Blatnoi and the SRN. He flies a Su-35 with a shark's mouth on the nose, leading to his nickname, Akula. Task Force 108 is to perform joint operations with loyal Russian forces in order to liberate the areas held by the NRF.

The mission begins in the city of Derbent, which is under NRF control. Loyalist units Tyuleni and Molot Squadron are about to initiate a landing operation, but will need the help of Warwolf Squadron. Threats to the landing units, such as tank columns and Hinds, must be dealt with quickly in order to ensure the operation's success. After a few air strikes, Guts goes on a solo attack run filled with enemy Gun Towers. Bishop must pursue and assist Guts before he can be shot down. The run is successful, though Guts takes damage in the attack. He is still capable of continuing the mission, however. After landing, Tyuleni's priority is the Caspian Gates, which is being used as an NRF stronghold. The Gates are filled with AA guns, and several air strikes will need to be preformed in order to fully destroy the fortress.

After liberating the city, Markov appears in the distance and fires a large missile at Tyuleni. Bishop moves in and damages the missile, causing it to detonate in the air above the Russian allies. The explosion is massive, and Bishop realizes that the missile carried a Trinity warhead, which he reports to AWACS before they return to base.

Trivia

  • The Russian text displayed in the newsreel in the introduction of the level, "Взрыв в авиабазе - Сиедственное управление Русской федерации подтвердил вэрыв базы" translates into "EXPLOSION IN AIR FORCE BASE - Investigation Department has confirmed explosion in air force base."
  • The coordinates seen in the MQ-1B in the same scene lead to a location just outside Samarra. This detail may be interpreted as a reference to "The Appointment in Samarra", a short novel by W. Somerset Maugham whose title has become a euphemism for death in modern times. However, the presence of trees and snow at the impact site imply that the Trinity missile hit the similarly named Russian town of Samara, and not the one in Iraq.
  • This mission has a strong ressemblance with Lit Fuse mission in Ace Combat 5. Both missions requires the player to support allied landing forces to conquer a fortress under poor weather conditions and facing heavy enemy resistance.
    • It is also similar to the Operation Bunker Shot mission in Ace Combat 04. Similar to the Pipeline mission, it requires Mobius 1 to support landing forces during poor weather conditions, however most notable is that both missions require the player to take down attack jets that are strafing the allies.
  • The plane Andrei Markov uses to launch the Trinity missile is a Su-35, indicating that this plane may carry EW1 warheads. However, the player can only use the EW1 with the PAK-FA.
  • The squadron movements used in the end of the mission are re-used in the end of Ace Combat Infinity's Online Co-Op Missions.

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