In Air to Air Combat
a fighter element is the smallest combat unit, it is the unit where the pilots are all directly tasked to look after each other. Members of the same element are called a lead
. Figter elements usually contain two or three aircraft
with elements grouped into a flight
, with a squadron
being compsed of several flights.
US units prefer the two-plane element. During an engagement, the two planes will fly roughly parallel and or side by side. This orientation permits each pilot to check his wingman's belly and tail, spots not easily seen from the cockpit
. Covering your wingman is a pilot's most important duty, even more so than the attack. During combat, the element is never supposed to separate, even when the larger subunit may choose to for tactical reasons