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September 11 attacks

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The September 11 attacks[a] were simultaneous, coordinated attacks against the United States of America on September 11, 2001.[4] Terrorists hijacked four airliners and crashed three of them into major U.S. buildings. 2,977 victims died and thousands more were injured.[1] The attacks directly resulted in a heightened awareness of defense in the public.[2]

In the Assault Horizon universe, the attacks were the first in a series of events that led to the development of the ASF-X Shinden II.[3]

Assault Horizon universe

Immediate aftermath

Private business jets saw a surge in popularity following the attacks; they were perceived as less likely targets of terrorism compared to commercial airliners.[3][note 1] Due to the rise in demand, Japanese aircraft manufacturer Taiga Heavy Industries acquired American business jet developer Fore Jet in late 2002. Taiga began developing the TFJ-01 GoldStar private airliner in 2003 with Fore Jet's expertise; by the time the TFJ-01 flew its first flight in 2007, private buyers had already ordered over a hundred TFJ-01s.[3]

On May 23, 2002, less than a year after the September 11 attacks, two unidentified delta-winged aircraft suddenly flew over Japan at low altitude before disappearing. Numerous citizens either witnessed the aircraft directly or heard their sonic booms. Their intrusion wasn't detected by United States or Japan Self-Defense Forces radars. The incident was considered an "unbelievable blunder" for Japan's national defense[6] at a time when citizens were more aware of it; many people pointed out that the planes could have dropped bombs.[2] The incident led Taiga's president to envision a new fighter aircraft to succeed Japan's aging F-4EJs.[3] While Taiga developed the TFJ-01 GoldStar, the company also began developing a new fighter aircraft[4] that would borrow design elements from the TFJ-01.[3] In November 2008, the Japan Self-Defense Forces formally agreed to purchase the new fighter, the ASF-X Shinden II, for official military use.[4]

Similar terrorist attacks

New Russian Federation fighter aircraft launched an assault on the United States in January 2016. They attacked Miami[7] before heading north to Washington, D.C. with a flight of Tu-160 bombers.[8] The number of military and civilian casualties from these attacks is not known but, similar to the September 11 attacks, the NRF deliberately flew their own planes into an active civilian motorway in Miami[7] and the USS Anzio and Jericho Unit in D.C.[8] The latter resulted in a complete loss of surface-to-air defenses in the capital district, providing an opening for Andrei Markov to fly over the capital. William Bishop shot him down and destroyed the Trinity missile he was carrying before it could reach the White House.[8]

Remnants of the NRF perpetrated another terrorist attack, this time on Tokyo in September 2018. A squadron of Su-37s, supported by electronic warfare from A-50s, approached Tokyo carrying both air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground munitions.[9] A test unit of ASF-X Shinden IIs intercepted and, after being fired upon, engaged the Su-37s. The Su-37s retreated after the A-50s were shot down by the United States Air Force and the Japanese missile destroyer Ryōkami.[10] One Su-37 had crashed into a warehouse and one ASF-X was hit by machine gun fire, but no other damage was reported; all ASF-Xs and their pilots returned safely.[11] Regardless, the belief that the Su-37s intended to bomb Tokyo, along with numerous Japanese civilians witnessing the battle from the coast, led to it being described as an experience similar to the September 11 attacks.[12]

Real world

Battleship Tanager sinking in Comberth Harbor; note the lack of harbor buildings, removed in the wake of the September 11 attacks[13]

The September 11 attacks had a significant impact on the entertainment industry and Ace Combat was no exception. The attacks occurred two days before the official release of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies in Japan. While the game's release was not delayed, Namco suspended the broadcast of a Japanese TV spot for the game.[14]

On the ten-year anniversary of the attacks, Masato Kanno, through the official Project Aces Twitter account, posted a series of tweets remembering the events of September 11 in their development office in Yokohama. While taking a break from working on strategy guides and web content for the game,[15] Kanno saw a post on 2channel claiming that a Cessna had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. He assumed it was a daredevil stunt gone wrong.[16] Kanno moved to the office's break room to watch the news on the television there.[17] Upon seeing the damage to the North Tower, he knew that it could not have been a Cessna, and someone behind him said that it was a jumbo jet.[18] While he didn't know what exactly was going on, his reflex was to call Kazutoki Kono and say "Kono-san, we have a problem!"[18][19] His instinct proved correct; at that moment, United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower live on television,[18] stunning everyone in the break room who had gathered to watch. One developer half-cried, half-laughed in shock and said "Wow, it's like a movie."[20] Kono began contacting others at Namco to determine any measures they needed to take regarding the game's release,[21] which led to the suspension of the Japanese TV spot.[14] Kanno was concerned about their own safety; their office was located in a building that faced the Port of Yokohama. He commented in retrospect that the scale was obviously different, but the elements seemed similar enough,[21] and he was sure that everyone in the port area or a high-rise building felt the same. Contrary to his desire to evacuate the building,[22] Kanno pulled a large number of empty VHS cassettes out of their operations room and began recording a video in triple, believing that a six-hour recording would allow him to escape the building. He later commented that it didn't make sense, but that "this is how people in panic think",[23] and he hasn't watched the recording since making it. He witnessed the "unbelievable sight" of the towers collapsing and his mind went blank.[24] He checked what he was working on[25] and saw that it included images for "THE DAYS OF SHATTERED SKIES",[26] one of which showed the Erusean battleship Tanager sinking in Comberth Harbor.[27] The original image "clearly showed the city of Comberth engulfed in smoke from the Tanager" and Kanno said it looked exactly like the collapsed Twin Towers. After discussing it with the site's webmaster, they removed the buildings from the image.[13] Kanno pointed at this, the pulling of the Japanese commercial, and the changes to the ending of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty as examples of developers taking ethical and social impacts into consideration;[28] he added that every entertainment production dealing with modern warfare is adjacent to that risk and they chose not to ignore it, even if it would have been easier to do so.[29] Kanno finished his tweets with an expression of condolences for the victims and their families, adding that it was also a close story for the company since Namco America employees knew people who were killed in the attacks.[30] He also apologized to fans for being so personal on the team's official account.[31]

According to Ace Combat: Assault Horizon writer Jim DeFelice, "action in New York was completely ruled out" from the game due to sensitivity about the September 11 attacks. Echoing Kanno's statement about the ethical risks of war in media, he commented that Project Aces "was extremely cautious about attacks in "real" cities."[32] Despite this, Assault Horizon depicts a second terrorist attack on Washington, D.C. using aircraft, although the Pentagon is not damaged during the mission.[8]


  1. September 11 attacks (アメリカ同時多発テロ事件)[3]
  1. This perception was seen in the real world as well; demand for charter companies spiked after the attacks.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "September 11th Fast Facts". CNN. Published on 27 March 2015. Retrieved on 14 May 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Master File, page 027.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Master File, page 024.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Master File, page 032.
  5. Sarsfield, Kate. "9/11 Legacy: Business aviation". Flight Global. Published on 4 September 2006. Retrieved on 23 August 2023.
  6. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Master File, page 026.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Mission 14: "Home Front", Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Mission 16: "Akula", Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
  9. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Master File, page 072.
  10. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Master File, page 076.
  11. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Master File, page 074.
  12. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Master File, page 069.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Ace Combat 4 TV Ad Suspended". IGN. Published on 12 September 2001. Retrieved on 21 September 2020.
  15. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  16. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  17. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  19. Kono, Kazutoki [@kazutoki] (9 September 2011). X.
  20. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  22. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  23. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  24. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  25. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  26. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  27. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  28. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  29. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  30. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  31. Kanno, Masato [@PROJECT_ACES] (11 September 2011). X.
  32. DeFelice, Jim. "Everyone wants to blow up . . .". Jumping Bail. Published on 21 November 2011. Retrieved on 25 August 2023.