A pilot's wingman is another pilot who supports and covers them in a potentially dangerous flying environment. The term comes from the wingman usually flying "on his wing", that is, beside and slightly behind the lead plane. A wingman's duty is to protect their flight lead, but not always vice versa.
In the Ace Combat franchise, wingmen are computer-controlled allies who assist and always follow the respective player character. This contrasts other computer-controlled allies that do not explicitly follow the player.
The very first game in the franchise, Air Combat, allows the player to hire a wingman for the upcoming mission. Wingmen are unlocked by completing certain missions, and hiring them costs credits. The player cannot change their aircraft and must issue one order that applies for the entire mission. The options for orders are to cover the player, attempt to fulfill the mission objective, or disperse to engage enemies at will.
|Name||Aircraft||Rank||Price per sortie||Unlocks after Mission...|
|Wiliam||F-4E Phantom II||Rookie||1,000,000||03|
|Sally||A-10A Thunderbolt II||Veteran||6,000,000||06|
|Bill||F-16C Fighting Falcon||Veteran||8,000,000||09|
|Martin||YF-23 Black Widow II||Ace||10,000,000||11|
Ace Combat 2
Ace Combat 2 expands on the wingmen feature present in Air Combat. Although there are only two wingmen here, both are available starting at mission 04. The player can still only hire one of them for an upcoming mission (except missions 08A and 21). Some missions allow the player to change their wingman's aircraft for a higher cost. The wingman orders that apply to a single mission were also expanded, allowing players to order their wingmen to cover them, attack enemy aircraft, attack ground targets, or attempt to fulfill the mission objective.
The player's available wingmen are:
Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere
The Japanese version of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere features characters that are allied with the player, but they do not act as wingmen that protect the player.
The international version of Ace Combat 3 features a nameless wingmen only in Mission 23, "Swarm".
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War (titled Squadron Leader in the PAL region for these features) was the first Ace Combat game to provide the player with direct mid-mission control over their wingmen through the Wingman Command system. Pressing the D-pad changes the orders the wingmen will follow: concentrating fire towards the player's front, disperse and engage at will, or attack enemies attacking the player. The player can also allow or forbid their wingmen's use of special weapons. In addition to missions commands, the player must purchase additional aircraft to provide for their wingmen before the mission begins.
The player's wingmen are:
- Kei Nagase callsign Edge
- Alvin H. Davenport callsign Chopper until mission 17, "Journey Home"
- Hans Grimm callsign Archer starting at mission 04, "First Flight"
- Marcus Snow callsign Swordsman starting at mission 20, "Ancient Walls"
Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War
Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, running on the same engine as Ace Combat 5, further refined the wingman gameplay. The player only has one wingman at a time, but the Wingman Command here allows the player to specify air targets only or ground targets only when commanding their wingman to disperse. The player cannot change their wingman's aircraft, but can select their wingman's special weapon.
The player's wingmen are:
- Larry Foulke callsign Pixy until mission 12, "The Stage of Apocalypse"
- Patrick James Beckett callsign PJ starting at mission 13, "Lying in Deceit"
In the final VS Mode stage, both players are accompanied by wingmen that will engage the other player's squadron. One player is accompanied by Wardog Squadron, while the other is accompanied by pilots from Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies.
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation only features one wingman in the whole game: Marcus Lampert callsign Shamrock. The Wingman Command system is simplified here, only allowing the player to order Shamrock to concentrate fire towards the player's front or attack enemies attacking the player. The player can once again choose their wingman's aircraft and special weapons in this game. Shamrock can also receive damage in all missions; if Shamrock receives too much damage, he will exit the combat area.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, as a remake of Ace Combat 2, features the same two wingmen from the original game. The player can choose either wingman to join them on some missions and choose their aircraft and special weapon. However, unlike Ace Combat 2, the player cannot command them.
- John Herbert callsign Slash focuses more on dispersing to engage targets at will
- Kei Nagase callsign Edge focuses more on defending the player from other attacking units
Ace Combat: Northern Wings
Ace Combat: Northern Wings allows the player to press the 7 button to call in two nameless wingmen, Grendel 2 and Grendel 3, for support. They can only be called when the player's wingman gauge is full and if the player is attacking air targets (Air Combat mode). They actively engage all targets in sight with their guns and missiles until a certain amount of time passes. However, the wingmen are not invincible; if both of them are shot down, they cannot be called again.
Ace Combat 7 : Skies Unknown
In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the player cannot issue any commands to their wingmen. When engaging enemies, the wingmen disperse and separately attack, but because of their damage being tuned down (to prevent them stealing kills from the player due to Ace Combat 7 not counting wingman kills as points for the player), they rarely destroy enemies. The same applies to other friendly units in the game. In some instances however, they can be quite efficient when clearing out a particular area. The player cannot select aircraft nor special weapon for their wingmen, they all fly an assigned plane that cannot be changed.
At the beginning of the game, the player character is a part of Mage Squadron for the first four missions. While they aren't a part of the squadron, Mage Squadron frequently sorties alongside Golem Squadron.
After mission 4, the player is sent to Spare Squadron, a penal squadron comprised of prisoners. Spare squadron has several notable named characters, along with several unnamed members of the squadron. During this time, the player's named wingmen are:
- Count, as Spare 2. He flies the Su-33 Flanker-D.
- Full Band, as Spare 6 until Mission 9. He flies the F/A-18F Super Hornet.
- High Roller, as Spare 7 until Mission 6. He flies the F-16C Fighting Falcon.
- Champ, as Spare 8 until Mission 7. He flies the MiG-29A Fulcrum.
- Tabloid, as Spare 11. He flies the Mirage 2000-5.
After leaving Spare, the player leads Strider Squadron from missions 11 to the end of the game (including the SP missions). Their damage seems to be tuned up for the SP missions due to the overwhelming amount of enemies. All of them fly the F-15C Eagle.
Due to Strider Squadron's frequent formation changes, the player's wingmen during this time are:
- Count, as "Strider 2" in missions 13, 16-20 and SP missions 1-3.
- Jaeger, as "Strider 3" in missions 11-20 and SP mission 3.
- Húxiān, as "Strider 4" in missions 16-20 and SP missions 1-3.
- Lanza, as "Strider 4" in missions 11-15 and "Strider 3" in SP mission 2.
- Skald, as "Strider 2" in missions 11-12, 14-15 and "Strider 3" in SP mission 1.