The Wingman is a pilot who supports and covers the flight lead in a potentially dangerous flying environment, usually flying "on his wing", that is, beside and slightly behind the leader plane. It is the job of the wingman to protect the flight lead, and vice versa. In the Ace Combat series, wingmen are computer-controlled allies who assist the respective player character, always following him (unlike other computer-controlled allies).
Main article: 92nd Special Tactical Fighter Squadron
Wingmen were present in the AC series as early as in Air Combat. At the beginning of all missions except 01, 02, 03, 07, and 16, the player was given an option to hire a wingman for the mission at hand. Wingmen had to be unlocked by completing certain missions and hiring them cost credits. They always flew the planes they came with and the player could only issue one order, effective for the entire duration of the mission: cover the player's plane, attempt to fulfill the mission objective, or disperse and engage any enemies at will.
|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-23A Black Widow II||Ace||10,000,000||11|
Ace Combat 2
Main article: 92nd Special Tactical Fighter Squadron
Ace Combat 2 expanded the wingmen concept of Air Combat. Although their total number dwindled to two, both were available from mission 04 onward. Up to one wingman could be hired for a particular mission (except in missions 08A and 21, where this option was not present) and each hire cost separately. Although the wingmen aircraft could now be replaced with better models, this option was only given in some missions and cost additional credits. Wingman orders (given once for the duration of the mission) were expanded: cover the flight lead, attack enemy aircraft, attempt to fulfill the mission objective, or attack ground targets.
Player character Scarface One's potential wingmen are:
- John Herbert, callsign "Slash". He flies an F-16C Fighting Falcon upon his introduction.
- Kei Nagase, callsign "Edge". She flies a Kfir C.7 upon her introduction.
Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere
The original, uncut Japanese version of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere was the first AC game to feature a large number of plot-essential wingmen. However, while the wingmen generally followed and fought alongside the player character Nemo on the missions, they could be neither ordered to follow a specific behavior (unlike in the previous games), nor equipped with better planes by the player. The wingmen join and leave Nemo's flight only after certain plot events. Depending on the story arc (and Nemo's current allegiance), they will either fight at Nemo's side or against him as named enemy aces.
Nemo has six potential wingmen, though only up to three will follow him in any given arc:
- Erich Jager. He remains loyal to UPEO throughout the game and flies on Nemo's wing in UPEO (I) (missions 01, 02, and 04), UPEO (II) (missions 05 through 09, except 06 and 07), and UPEO (III) (missions 0A through 12) arcs. He pilots an EF-2000E Typhoon II throughout the game.
- Fiona Chris Fitzgerald. She is initially loyal to UPEO but in the mission "Scylla and Charybdis", the player must decide between letting her die or saving her and deserting to Neucom together. She remains loyal to Neucom for the rest of the game. She flies as a wingman in UPEO (I) (except mission 03), UPEO (II) (missions 05 and 08), Neucom (I) (except 2A), Neucom (II) (except 35) arcs. In the UPEO arcs, she pilots an EF-2000E Typhoon II; in the Neucom arcs, she flies an R-101 Delphinus 1.
- Rena Hirose. She flies on Nemo's wing in several missions for UPEO (01, 02, 06, 07, and 0A through 0F), and appears as an ally in mission 25 "Archnemesis". As a wingman, she pilots her own custom Su-37 Super Flanker-R. She also appears as an enemy ace in all endgames except UPEO's (missions 1F, 20, 21 for GR; 26, 2F, 30 for Ouroboros; and 37 for Neucom).
- Cynthia Bridgitte Fitzgerald. She is loyal to Neucom and will only join Nemo after he deserts UPEO with Fiona and will leave him unless he joins Ouroboros with her later on. She thus flies as a wingman in Neucom (I) and Ouroboros (II) arcs (missions 28 through 30, except 2A "Zero Gravity"). She also appears as an enemy ace in missions 14 (GR I) and 33 (NEU II). Cynthia pilots an R-102 Delphinus 2 and, later, an R-103 Delphinus 3.
- Abyssal Dision. He is initially loyal to General Resource and will fly with Nemo if he deserts with him first to GR, then to Ouroboros; he appears as an ally in mission 03 and 04, then as a wingman in the General Resource (I) arc (except missions 17, 1A, and 1C) and the Ouroboros (I) arc (except 26 and 27). As a wingman, he flies an F-15S/MT Eagle+ and an F-22C Raptor II. He also appears as an enemy ace in every story route of the game (missions 0B, 21, 2E, 27, and 37).
- Keith Bryan. Originally Dision's wingman, he remains loyal to General Resource until the end. He appears as an ally in missions 03 and 04 for UPEO, then as a wingman throughout General Resource (I) and General Resource (II) arcs (except missions 16, 1B, and 22); he also allies himself with Nemo briefly in mission 26 (Ouroboros (I) arc). He pilots an F/A-32C Erne in the GR (I) arc and an XFA-36A Game in GR (II).
The uncut Electrosphere thus features more named wingmen than any other AC game to date (though The Unsung War is the installment with the most controllable wingmen). It is also the only game featuring an equal number of male and female ace pilots.
The export version of the game removed all named wingmen along with the rest of the story and characters. The only time the player is given a (nameless) wingman is in the mission 23 "Swarm". This nameless wingman is notably more efficient than the wingmen from the uncut game.
Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies
Main article: 118th Tactical Fighter Wing
The protagonist of Shattered Skies, Mobius One, never flies with a wingman. The player is assisted by any number of ISAF aircraft present in the combat airspace at the time and they will follow the player's plane within certain range, but they can be neither controlled, nor equipped with better aircraft and/or weapons by the player. The Mobius Squadron (alias "the Ribbons"), formed for the final mission, are officially Mobius One's wingmen, but gameplay-wise, they act like any other ISAF allied aircraft in the game.
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War
The Unsung War was the first AC game to give the player direct control over their wingmen. The players could not only buy new playable aircraft for their wingmen and select their paint schemes, but also give them multiple orders in the same mission with the new Wingman Command system. By pressing the arrow buttons, the wingmen could be ordered to concentrate their fire on the flight lead's current target, disperse and engage at will, cover the flight lead, or use/preserve the special weapons ammo. Overall, the game places a large emphasis on the wingmen, both giving them extensive characterization and trying out different approaches to them as a gameplay element (in fact, the game was even renamed to Squadron Leader in PAL regions to emphasize this point).
The game is also notable for placing the players themselves into the wingman's position: in the first two missions, the player character Blaze flies number four on Capt. Jack Bartlett's wing. During these missions, the player is restricted to following the leader until given weapons free (a situation that repeats in missions 17 and 19, with Edge and Buchner as temporary flight leads, respectively) and cannot issue orders to their teammates. From mission 03 onward, Blaze is given command of the Wardog Squadron in the field, and starting with mission 05, he can also purchase new planes for them (and himself). The Squadron's roster remains mostly the same throughout the game, with members leaving and joining again only after certain plot events.
Blaze's wingmen are:
- Kei Nagase, callsign "Edge". First appearing in the opening cutscene, she is Blaze's number two from the beginning of mission 03 and until the end of the game. Her characteristic trait is the extreme protectiveness towards Blaze, caused by the loss of her first flight lead, Capt. Bartlett, in mission 02. Over the course of the game, she develops strong feelings for both men. She comes into the spotlight in mission 14, when she is shot down over Glubina where she hoped to find Bartlett, and has to be rescued by her squadron in the next mission. In her final words to Blaze in mission 27+, she repeats her oath to protect him and asks him to let her fly with him for a little longer. Perhaps reflecting said oath, she always seems to stay close to Blaze's plane at all times, even when ordered to Disperse.
- Alvin H. Davenport, callsign "Chopper". He first appears in mission 01 as Bartlett's number three, and occupies the same position in Blaze's team between missions 03 and 17. He is characterized by his loud-mouthed optimism and lack of respect for his superiors, which does not prevent him from being an efficient pilot. His spotlight moment is in mission 17, when he crashes into an empty stadium, unable to eject due to waiting for too long while it was being evacuated. Chopper is the player's only wingman in AC5 to be killed in action. His final words before he crashes are that he will miss the voice of his AWACS, Thunderhead, who, in turn, describes him as "a model fighter pilot to the end".
- Hans Grimm, callsign "Archer". He joins the Wardog Squadron as Blaze's number four in mission 04 and flies with him until the end of the game. His characteristic trait is his constant insecurity about his own piloting skills, due to his youth and never actually completing his training. He mostly gets over it by mission 16, wherein his older brother, an Osean marine, comments on how proud he is about Hans' achievements. In his final words to Blaze in mission 27+, he looks forward to going home to his family, with Snow commenting that his mother would be happy to see him again.
- Marcus Snow, callsign "Swordsman". First appearing in mission 03 as the leader of the VFA-206, he replaces Chopper as Blaze's number three in mission 20 and stays with him until the end of the game. His characteristic trait is his grumpy attitude and bleak outlook on war (contrasting the others' naiveté), caused by witnessing the deaths of his many wingmen, including all of VFA-206. He lightens up a little after joining Blaze, and in his final words to him in mission 27+, he thanks him for letting him fly as a wingman again and experience what his own wingmen felt.
Interestingly, the first letters of all four of their callsigns spell out "ACES", when put into the right order.
In most missions, all available wingmen follow Blaze into the battlefield, but on certain occasions, the situation is altered slightly:
- In missions 01, 02, and 17, the player has to assume the role of another character's (Bartlett, Davenport, Edge, respectively) wingman until given permission to engage targets at will. In mission 19, the player is restricted to following the lead (Buchner) for the entire mission.
- In missions 03, 04 (before Grimm takes off), 15, 17 (after Chopper crashes), 18, and 18+, the player only has two wingmen at their side.
- In mission 08, the player only has Edge supporting Blaze in the first half of the mission, before they are reunited with the other half of the team.
- In mission 21, the player must complete the objectives without any support from the wingmen at all (hence the mission's name, "Solitaire").
The Wingman Command controls are not available in missions 01, 02, 19, and 21, as well as the first half of mission 17 (while Edge leads the ceremonial flyby).
Ace Combat Advance
Like Mobius One, the protagonist of Ace Combat Advance, "Ace", never flies with a wingman. This was likely a consequence of the Game Boy Advance console's lack of suitable controls and processing power to implement wingman gameplay mechanics.
Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War
Main article: 66th Air Force Unit
The prequel to The Unsung War, The Belkan War refined the wingman gameplay mechanics and deepened the relationship between the new player character, Cipher, and his wingmen. The Wingman Command system returned with two important changes: first, repeatedly pressing the arrow button "Left" (Disperse command) now additionally specified whether the wingman should only target aerial enemies, ground ones, or both. Secondly, the first hit of an arrow button now gave the corresponding order, instead of first calling up the Wingman Command menu, like in AC5 (though this could be changed in the options's menu).
Since AC5, the number of wingmen has been reduced to one at any time, and to two in total throughout the game. Unlike in AC5, the players could give orders to their wingman from mission 01 onward, though they could not choose neither the plane, nor the paintscheme for him anymore. The player could, however, decide which special weapons their wingman would carry on the mission. Although the option to answer simple prompts by non-player characters with Yes or No was removed since AC5, the wingmen were given more dialogue, which was influenced by Cipher's Ace Style.
Cipher's wingmen are:
- Larry Foulke, callsign "Pixy". He is put under Cipher's command in mission 01 and flies with him until his sudden desertion in mission 12. A complex character, Pixy is a moody individual with a bleak outlook on reality and war. His cynicism about human society and particularly countries often clashes with PJ's idealism, especially in mission 11. As a pilot, Pixy is extremely aggressive and will often steal Cipher's kills if he is close enough to do so, even when ordered only to provide cover. In the final mission, Pixy returns as the final boss of the game and shoots down PJ. His defeat by Cipher, however, forces him to reevaluate his own views. As a wingman, he flies an F-15C Eagle.
- Patrick James Beckett, callsign "PJ" (his initials). First introduced in mission 09 as Crow 3, he flies as Galm's number two between missions 13 and 17. In contrast to Pixy, PJ is a cheerful person who plans to marry after the war and idealistically believes he is fighting for a just cause, putting him at odds with Cipher's original wingman. He is shot down and likely killed while shielding Cipher with his own plane from a laser beam fired by Pixy's ADFX-02 Morgan in the end of mission 17. To date, he remains the only named wingman in the series whose face has never been revealed. He flies a F-16C Fighting Falcon.
Only on two occasions does the player fly without a wingman: in missions 12 (after the nuke goes off) and 18. The bonus mission SP likewise doesn't feature a wingman.
Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception
Main article: 207th Tactical Fighter Squadron
The protagonist of Skies of Deception, Gryphus One, has four wingmen in the first mission (thus, eclipsing even The Unsung War) but only one from the mission 02 onwards. Unlike in The Unsung War and The Belkan War, these wingmen cannot be controlled by the player during missions, because the PlayStation Portable has less controls than non-portable consoles and the D-pad (which was used for giving wingman commands in the PS2 games) is instead used for yawing and trimming. Gryphus One's wingmen therefore simply follow him and engage enemies in his vicinity, much like the allied squadrons in Shattered Skies.
- Rick, callsign "Gryphus Two", is one of Gryphus One's original wingmen who dies in mission 01 during an attack by the Gleipnir.
- Roy, callsign "Gryphus Three", ditto.
- The unnamed wingman known only as Gryphus Four, ditto.
- Another unnamed wingman, callsign Gryphus Five, is the only one who survives the first battle and flies on Gryphus One's wing until late in the game. His ultimate fate depends on whether Gryphus One can defeat the Alect Squadron in mission 13A before they shoot down Five.
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation
Main article: 28th Fighter Squadron
Fires of Liberation features only one wingman, who follows the player character, Garuda One, throughout the entire game (except the later parts of the final mission). The Wingman Command system has been simplified, with the Disperse and Use/Preserve special weapons orders removed. The player can buy new aircraft for the wingman, as well as choose which special weapons he carries on the missions. For the first time since Air Combat, the wingman's plane can take damage in any mission (rather than only after certain story events), forcing him to leave the battle if damaged too much. Preventing that from happening provides a score bonus after completing the mission.
AC6 is also the first installment to give the player limited control over non-wingman allies: upon filling up the AS ("Allied Support") gauge by destroying enemies and fulfilling mission objectives, the player can issue orders to all friendly aircraft in the airspace to either attack their target or cover their plane.
Garuda One's wingman is:
- Marcus Lampert, callsign "Shamrock". Much like Pixy, Shamrock is put under Talisman's command ad hoc during the invasion of Gracemeria, simply because neither of them has a flight partner at the time.
Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion
Main article: Falco Squadron
- See also: Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion
This section is a stub.
Ace Combat: Joint Assault
Main article: Antares Squadron
The protagonist of Joint Assault, Antares One, never flies with a wingmen in the single-player campaign, though his callsign seems to indicate otherwise (cf. Mobius One). He does have three wingmen in the multiplayer mode and wingman commands are available only during the online play.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon
The wingmen in Assault Horizon are implemented similarly to Ace Combat X. They are not controllable in any way (orders, plane and weapon selection, etc.) but have personalities and play certain roles in the story. The primary player character, William Bishop (callsign "Warwolf 1"), has three wingmen:
- José Gutierrez, callsign "Guts" or "Warwolf 2". He is a loud-mouthed optimist not unlike Chopper from AC5, who tends to get himself in trouble. In mission 05, Andrei Markov almost kills him before Bishop draws away his attention. In mission 08, Guts attempts a risky bombing run and Bishop has to race against him to save his hide again. In mission 14, he takes Markov's missile aimed at Bishop (much like PJ in ACZ) and his ejection seat jams (again, like Chopper's). However, Bishop manages to save him by gunning off his cockpit so Guts can bail out into the Atlantic. His fate is left uncertain during the final missions but the scene after the credits reveals that he was found alive and conscious.
- Warwolf 3. He plays a very small role, mostly supporting Bishop. In the co-op mode, one of the players takes his role (alongside the game host, who plays Bishop, and a computer-controlled Guts).
- Warwolf 4. He is identical to Warwolf 3 gameplay-wise and being playable in co-op.
Several scenes in the game suggest that the Warwolf Squadron has more members, including a young woman who looks suspiciously like Kei Nagase from AC5. However, these pilots have no spoken lines and play virtually no role in or outside of cutscenes.
Other protagonists also have recurring supporting characters, e.g. Doug Robinson's co-pilot Jack, Janice Rehl's co-pilot and bomber bay operator Finn (also a playable character), and Guns' helicopter pilot. They all have story-relevant dialogue but are unremarkable gameplay-wise.
Ace Combat 3D: Cross Rumble
Main article: 92nd Special Tactical Fighter Squadron
Ace Combat 3D: Cross Rumble, itself a remake of Ace Combat 2, features the same wingmen from the original game. However, they have been given a distinctive personality and backstory.
- John Herbert, callsign "Slash". A 33-year old male hailing from central Usea.
- Kei Nagase, callsign "Edge". A 20-year old female pilot hailing from far eastern Usea.
Ace Combat: Northern Wings
Main article: Grendel Squadron
The wingmen can be called into action in Air Combat mode by pressing the 7 button. The 2 wingmen will actively engage any and all targets in sight with their guns and missiles until a certain time is passed, then they will retreat and the wingmen gauge will slowly recharge. The wingmen are not invincible, they will be shot down if they take enough damage. The laser shot from the Arkbird will instantly destroy them. The wingmen can be called in at anytime if the wingmen gauge is full, except when in Ground Attack mode, or when both wingmen are already shot down.
- ↑ Erich's profile in the Mission & World View Guide Book.
- ↑ Fiona's profile in the Mission & World View Guide Book.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Rena's profile in the Mission & World View Guide Book.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Cynthia's profile in the Mission & World View Guide Book.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Dision's profile in the Mission & World View Guide Book.
- ↑ Keith's profile in the Mission & World View Guide Book.
- Definition of "wingman" on Wikipedia