An Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) is a specific type of airborne early warning and control system installed on an aircraft. An AWACS is used to detect aircraft, ships, and vehicles at long range and perform surveillance, providing a command role to the specific aircraft utilizing the system.
In the Ace Combat series, the term "AWACS" is used as a synonym for the entire unit operating an E-767 with an AWACS system installed. These aircraft are manned by, among others, a radio officer who is in direct contact with the player and their allies during missions.
AWACS units generally fulfill the following purposes:
- Calling out when the player performs specific actions such as shooting down aircraft or firing weapons (since the player character is typically mute)
- Clearing the player and their allies to engage when encountering enemy aircraft
- Providing detailed information on enemy units and the battle situation
- Monitoring superweapon attacks, including counting down to an impact
- Rarely, communicating with enemy units
Friendly AWACS units typically aren't present when playing missions, though there are exceptions. The missions Cavalry and Alarm Clock require the player to protect an AWACS unit on the ground. They have also appeared in endgame cutscenes, usually flying close to the player. AWACS Ghost Eye and Snake Pit are the only AWACS aircraft to be seen flying in gameplay.
List of AWACS units
- Stagecoach (Ace Combat 2)
- AWACS SkyEye (Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown)
- AWACS Thunderhead (Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War)
- AWACS Oka Nieba (Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War)
- Mother (Ace Combat Advance)
- AWACS Eagle Eye (Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War)
- AWACS Ghost Eye (Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation)
- Snake Pit (Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation)
- Canopus (Ace Combat: Joint Assault)
- AWACS Magic (Ace Combat: Assault Horizon)
- Keynote (Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy)
- AWACS Heavy Cloud (Mach Storm, Ace Combat Infinity)
- AWACS Sky-Eye (Ace Combat Infinity)
- AWACS Sky Keeper (Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown)
- AWACS Bandog (Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown)
- AWACS Long Caster (Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown)
- AWACS Argus (Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown)
- AWACS Wind Maker (Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown)
- SkyEye is the first AWACS that voices the player's actions in the series.
- The E-767 is always used as the AWACS aircraft in Ace Combat since the development studio, Bandai Namco Entertainment, is a Japanese company; the E-767 is the AWACS aircraft used by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.