Air commodore

Air commodore (abbreviated as Air Cdre in the RAF, IAF and PAF; AIRCDRE in the RNZAF and RAAF) is a one-star rank and the most junior general rank of the air-officer which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force.[1] The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence such as Zimbabwe, and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. The name of the rank is always the full phrase and is never shortened to Commodore, which is a rank in various naval forces.

Air commodore is a one-star rank and the most junior air officer rank, being immediately senior to group captain and immediately subordinate to air vice-marshal. It has a NATO ranking code of OF-6 and is equivalent to a commodore in the Royal Navy or a brigadier in the British Army or the Royal Marines. Unlike these two ranks, however, it has always been a substantive rank. Additionally, air commodores have always been considered to be air officers whilst Royal Navy commodores have not since the Napoleonic Wars been classified as officers of flag rank, and British Army brigadiers have not been considered to be general officers since 1922 when they ceased to be titled as brigadier-generals. In other NATO forces, such as the United States Armed Forces and the Canadian Armed Forces, the equivalent one-star rank is brigadier general.

The equivalent rank in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, Women's Royal Air Force (until 1968) and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (until 1980) was "air commandant".

Air commodore
British RAF OF-6
The Air Cdre insignia from the Royal Air Force
Air Commodore star plate
A RAF Air Cdre star plate
Service branchAir forces
AbbreviationAir Cdre / AIRCDRE
NATO rankOF-6
Non-NATO rankO-7
Formation1 August 1919 (RAF)
Next higher rankAir vice-marshal
Next lower rankGroup captain
Equivalent ranks

Royal Air Force use and history

In the present-day RAF, air commodores typically hold senior appointments within groups, acting directly in support of the air officer commanding. However, during the inter-war period, and in the case of the contemporary No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group, the air officer commanding held or holds air commodore rank. In the Air Training Corps, an appointed air commodore holds ultimate authority over the cadet organisation as the Commandant Air Cadets.


On 1 April 1918, the newly created RAF adopted its officer rank titles from the British Army, with officers at what is now air commodore holding the rank of brigadier-general. In response to the proposal that the RAF should use its own rank titles, it was suggested that the RAF might use the Royal Navy's officer ranks, with the word "air" inserted before the naval rank title. Although the Admiralty objected to this simple modification of their rank titles, it was agreed that the RAF might base many of its officer rank titles on Navy officer ranks with differing pre-modifying terms. It was also suggested that air-officer ranks could be based on the term "ardian", which was derived from a combination of the Gaelic words for "chief" (ard) and "bird" (eun), with the term "fourth ardian" or "flight ardian" being used for the equivalent to brigadier-general and commodore. However, the rank title based on the Navy rank was preferred and air commodore was adopted on 1 August 1919.

RAF insignia, command flag and star plate

The rank insignia is a light-blue band on a broad black band worn on both the lower sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulders of the flying suit or the casual uniform. On the mess uniform, air commodores wear a broad gold ring on both lower sleeves.

The command flag of an air commodore has one narrow red band running through the centre and is rectangular with a cut-away section giving it two tails. It is the only RAF command flag of this shape and it is similar in shape to that of a Royal Navy commodore's broad pennant. The vehicle star plate for an air commodore depicts a single white star (air commodore is equivalent to a one-star rank) on an air force blue background. RAF air commodores are classed as air officers and as such have two rows of gold oak leaves on the peak of their service dress hats.


An RAF air commodore's sleeve mess insignia

RAF-Air Cdre-OF-6

An RAF air commodore's sleeve on No. 1 service dress uniform


An air commodore's command flag

Honorary air commodores, air commodores-in-chief and air commandants

Churchil at the Tehran Conference 1943
Churchill in his air commodore's uniform at the 1943 Tehran Conference

The reigning monarch may appoint honorary air commodores for RAF flying squadrons and stations. For example, Prince Charles is RAF Valley's honorary air commodore and Winston Churchill was 615 Squadron's honorary air commodore.[2] As the title suggests, this is an honorary position bestowed by the reigning monarch and it does not grant the recipient command of a unit or formation. It is designed to strengthen the bond between the military unit and the individual and promote the role of the air force amongst the public.

Serving officers, such as Prince Harry, may be granted an equivalent appointment to the honorary rank. In such cases the individual is made an honorary air commandant and they retain their regular rank.[3]

Larger air force organisations or formations may be honoured by having an air commodore-in-chief appointed in their name. These appointments are rare and to date have been reserved for senior members of the Royal Family. Air commodore-in-chief is not a rank and such an appointment does not convey the rank of air commodore upon the recipient.

Other air forces

Commonwealth of Nations

The rank of air commodore is also used in a number of the air forces in the Commonwealth, including the Bangladesh Air Force, Ghana Air Force, Indian Air Force, Pakistan Air Force,[4] Royal Australian Air Force,[5] Royal New Zealand Air Force and Sri Lanka Air Force.

The Royal Canadian Air Force used the rank until the unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968, when army-type rank titles were adopted. An air commodore then became a brigadier-general (following the US Armed Forces title, rather than the British brigadier, which had been held by equivalent officers in the former Canadian Army). In official French Canadian usage, the rank title was commodore de l'air. The position of honorary air commodore still exists in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

RAAF O7 rank

An RAAF air commodore's rank insignia.

An RCAF brigadier-general's rank insignia.

Air Commodore of IAF

An IAF air commodore's rank insignia.


An RNZAF air commodore's rank insignia.

Non-Commonwealth countries

Air Commodore, a calque or near-literal translation is also a rank in the Egyptian Air Force, Royal Air Force of Oman, the Royal Thai Air Force and the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

In the Indonesian Air Force the rank of Komodor Udara, a calque of "air commodore" was used until 1973. The present equivalent is Marsekal Pertama, a calque of "First Marshal" and this is usually translated into English as Air Commodore.

While the names of most ranks of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) are Greek language calques of RAF ranks, the HAF equivalent of O-7/OF-6 is Taxiarchos tis aeroporias, which may be literally translated from modern Greek as "brigadier of the air force" (or "aviation brigadier"). (A free translation of the army rank of taxiarchis, which originated in ancient Greece, is "one who orders" and the Greek root τάξις taxis is also the basis of the aviation term taxi – that is, to move one or more aircraft on the ground.) Nevertheless, Taxiarchos tis aeroporias is normally rendered into English as "Air Commodore" and the rank was introduced during the Second World War, after the Greek armed forces were reconstituted in exile, often alongside or within Commonwealth military formations, such as RAF Middle East Command.

Other air forces have, or once had, an equivalent rank named simply Commodore (or a derived term such as Comodoro), without the qualifying prefix "Air". Examples include the Argentinian Air Force, Chilean Air Force, and Royal Netherlands Air Force. Such a rank often has essentially the same rank insignia as that of an RAF Air Commodore.

Comodoro FACH

A Chilean (CAF) Comodoro rank insignia.

Hellenic Air Force OF-6

A Greek (HAF) taxiarchos rank insignia.

Marsma pdh au

An Indonesian (IAF) air commodore's rank insignia.


A Netherlands (RNAF) commodore's rank insignia.

Air Cdre Pakistan Air Force

A Pakistani (PAF) air commodore's rank insignia.

See also


  1. ^ "Ranks and Badges of the Royal Air Force". Royal Air Force. 2007. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  2. ^ "Questions Answered: Winston Churchill in uniform and Ralph or Rafe". The Times. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  3. ^ "New Royal Air Force honorary appointments". The Official Website of the British Monarchy. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  4. ^ "PAKISTAN AIR FORCE - Official website". Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 May 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
Air commodore-in-chief

Air Commodore-in-Chief is a senior honorary air force appointment which originated in the Royal Air Force and now exists in the air forces of various Commonwealth realms. Appointees are made Air Commodore-in-Chief of a large air force organisation or formation. Initially only the British monarch held air commodore-in-chief appointments. However, since the second half of the 20th century, other members of the royal family have been appointed to such positions in the United Kingdom and the other realms such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Air commodore-in-chief appointments do not confer a rank, be it air commodore or otherwise. Air commodore-in-chief appointments are more senior than honorary air commodore appointments. The equivalent naval title of Commodore-in-Chief was introduced in 2006.

Air officer

An air officer is an air force officer of the rank of air commodore or higher. Such officers may be termed "officers of air rank". While the term originated in the Royal Air Force, air officers are also to be found in many Commonwealth nations who have a similar rank structure to the RAF.Air officers holding command appointments receive the title Air Officer Commanding (AOC), whereas air officers holding commander-in-chief positions are titled as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C).

Brigadier (United Kingdom)

Brigadier (Brig) is a senior rank in the British Army and the Royal Marines. Brigadier is the superior rank to colonel, but subordinate to major-general. It corresponds to the Rank of brigadier general in many other nations.

The rank has a NATO rank code of OF-6, placing it equivalent to the Royal Navy commodore and the Royal Air Force air commodore ranks and the brigadier general (1-star general) rank of the United States military and numerous other NATO nations.

Commandant-General of the RAF Regiment

The Commandant-General of the RAF Regiment (CG RAF Regt) is the Royal Air Force commander of the RAF Regiment. The post was established in January 1942 immediately prior to the creation of the RAF Regiment. The first two holders of the post were major-generals in the British Army. From 1948 onward, the Commandant-General has been an RAF officer of air rank. These officers all held the rank of air vice-marshal until 1993 when the post was downgraded to air commodore. The current incumbent is Air Commodore R. J. F. Clifford.

Commodore (Royal Navy)

Please see Commodore (rank) for other versions of this rank.Commodore (Cdre) is a rank of the Royal Navy above captain and below rear admiral. It has a NATO ranking code of OF-6. The rank is equivalent to brigadier in the British Army and Royal Marines and to air commodore in the Royal Air Force.

Comparative air force officer ranks of Africa

Rank comparison chart of air forces of African states.

Comparative air force officer ranks of the Commonwealth

Rank comparison chart of air forces of Commonwealth of Nations states.

Ghana Air Force

The Ghana Air Force (GHF) is the aerial warfare organizational military branch of the Ghanaian Armed Forces (GAF). The GHF, along with the Ghanaian army (GA) and Ghanaian navy (GN), make up the Ghanaian Armed Forces (GAF) which are controlled by the Ghanaian Ministry of Defence (MoD).


Air Commodore Iswahyudi (born 15 July 1918; disappeared 14 December 1947) was an Indonesian airman and National Hero. On 14 December 1947, the plane he was flying with Halim Perdanakusuma crashed off the coast of Tanjung Hantu Hill, Perak, Malayan Union. Halim's body was later found, but Iswahyudi's was never recovered.

Jasjit Singh (IAF officer)

Air Commodore Jasjit Singh AVSM, VrC, VM (July 8, 1934 – August 4, 2013) was an Indian military officer, writer, military strategist, and air commodore in the Indian Air Force. He retired as Director of Operations of the Air Force but remained head of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (1987-2001). He was founder-director of the Centre for Air Power Studies, based in Delhi. He was awarded the Vir Chakra during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

Marmaduke Grove

Marmaduke Grove Vallejo (July 6, 1878 – May 15, 1954), his name erroneously spelled Marmaduque Grobeh, was a Chilean Air Force officer, political figure and member of the Government Junta of the Socialist Republic of Chile in 1932.

Muhammad Mahmood Alam

Air Commodore Muhammad Mahmood Alam SJ (Urdu: محمد محمود عالم‎, Bengali: মোহাম্মদ মাহমূদ আলম; 6 July 1935 – 18 March 2013) was a Pakistani fighter pilot who was officially credited with having downed nine Indian Air Force aircraft during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, including five Hawker Hunter aircraft on one sortie on 7 September 1965. He was a F-86 Sabre flying ace as per Pakistan Air Force records. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat ("The star of courage"), the nation's third highest military award and Bar for his actions during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.

One-star rank

An officer of one-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-6. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, one-star officers hold the rank of commodore, flotilla admiral, brigadier general, brigadier, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air commodore.

Officers of one-star rank are either the most junior of the flag, general and air officer ranks, or are not considered to hold the distinction at all. Specifically, in many navies, one-star officers are not considered to be flag officers, although this is not always the case. The army and air force rank of brigadier general is, by definition, a general officer rank. However, the equivalent rank of brigadier is usually not designated as a general officer. The air force rank of air commodore is always considered to be an air-officer rank.

Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service

Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS) is the nursing branch of the British Royal Air Force.

It was established as the Royal Air Force Temporary Nursing Service (RAFNS) in 1918, and became part of the permanent establishment as the Royal Air Force Nursing Service on 27 January 1921. It received the Royal prefix after Princess Mary agreed to become its Patron in June 1923.

It was a women-only branch until 1980, when men were also permitted to join. Until the Second World War, it was only open to unmarried women, or childless widows. There was also a Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (Reserve) (PMRAFNS(R)) to supplement the regular service during times of war or emergencies.

Its current mission statement reads: "The Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service is committed to providing a nursing workforce that is determined to develop the skills, knowledge and ability to deliver high quality care whilst being responsive to the dynamic nature of RAF Nursing in peacetime and on operations."A history of the service was commissioned from the writer Mary Mackie and appeared in 2001. An updated and extended edition covering subsequent decades (including service in Afghanistan) was published in September 2014.

RAF Legal Branch

The Royal Air Force Legal Branch (RAFLB) or Directorate Legal Services (DLS) - as it is better known - is the uniformed legal service provider for the Royal Air Force. It consists of solicitors and barristers qualified in a Commonwealth jurisdiction. DLS is headquartered at Air Command RAF High Wycombe. The Directorate is currently staffed by a mixture of members of:

The Law Society of England and Wales;

The Law Society of Scotland;

The Bar Council of England and Wales; and

The Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet.

RAF Medical Services

The Royal Air Force Medical Services is the branch of the Royal Air Force that provides health care at home and on deployed operations to RAF service personnel. Medical officers are the doctors of the RAF and have specialist expertise in aviation medicine to support aircrew and their protective equipment. Medical officers also carry out Aeromedical evacuations, providing vital assistance on search-and-rescue missions or emergency relief flights worldwide.

RAF Staff College, Andover

The RAF Staff College at RAF Andover was the first Royal Air Force staff college to be established. Its role was the training of officers in the administrative, staff and policy aspects of air force matters.

Royal Air Force College Cranwell

The Royal Air Force College (RAFC) is the Royal Air Force training and education academy which provides initial training to all RAF personnel who are preparing to be commissioned officers. The College also provides initial training to aircrew cadets and is responsible for all RAF recruiting along with officer and aircrew selection. Originally established as a naval aviation training centre during World War I, the College was established as the world's first air academy in 1919. During World War II, the College was closed and its facilities were used as a flying training school. Reopening after the War, the College absorbed the Royal Air Force Technical College in 1966.

The Royal Air Force College is based at RAF Cranwell near Sleaford in Lincolnshire, and is sometimes titled as the Royal Air Force College Cranwell.

Władysław Turowicz

Air Commodore Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz (Urdu: ولادیسلاو جوزف تورووچ‎) (23 April 1908 – 8 January 1980), usually referred to as W. J. M. Turowicz, was a Polish-Pakistani aviator, military scientist and aeronautical engineer.

Turowicz was the administrator of Pakistan's Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) from 1967 to 1970. He was one of forty five Polish officers and airmen who joined RPAF on contract in the early fifties. After completion of his initial contract, Turowicz opted to stay on in Pakistan and continued to serve in PAF and later, SUPARCO.

Turowicz made significant contributions to Pakistan's missile/rocket program as a chief aeronautical engineer. In Pakistan, he remains highly respected as a scientist and noted aeronautical engineer.

Navies Armies Air forces
Commissioned officers
Admiral of
the fleet
Field marshal or
General of the army
Marshal of
the air force
Admiral General Air chief marshal
Vice admiral Lieutenant general Air marshal
Rear admiral Major general Air vice-marshal
Commodore Brigadier or
brigadier general
Air commodore
Captain Colonel Group captain
Commander Lieutenant colonel Wing commander
Major or
Squadron leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
junior grade
Lieutenant or
first lieutenant
Flying officer
Ensign or
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Officer cadet Officer cadet Flight cadet
Enlisted grades
Warrant officer or
chief petty officer
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sergeant major
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Petty officer Sergeant Flight sergeant
Leading seaman Corporal or
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gunner or
Aircraftman or
NATO rank code Student officer OF-1 OF-2 OF-3 OF-4 OF-5 OF-6
Royal Navy O Cdt Mid SLt Lt Lt Cdr Cdr Capt Cdre RAdm VAdm Adm Adm of the Fleet
Royal Marines O Cdt 2Lt Lt Capt Maj Lt Col Col Brig Maj-Gen Lt-Gen Gen Capt-Gen
Army O Cdt 2Lt Lt Capt Maj Lt Col Col Brig Maj-Gen Lt-Gen Gen Fd Mshl
Royal Air Force Off Cdt / SO APO / Plt Off Fg Off Flt Lt Sqn Ldr Wg Cdr Gp Capt Air Cdre AVM Air Mshl Air Chf Mshl Mshl of the RAF
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