Air Marshal (Air Mshl or AM) is a three-star air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence, including the Commonwealth, 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.
Air marshal is a three-star rank and has a NATO ranking code of OF-8, equivalent to a vice-admiral in the Royal Navy or a lieutenant-general in the British Army or the Royal Marines. In other NATO forces, such as the United States Armed Forces and the Canadian Armed Forces, the equivalent three-star rank is lieutenant general.
Officers in the rank of air marshal typically hold very senior appointments such as commander-in-chief of an air force or a large air force formation. Officers in the ranks of air chief marshal and air vice-marshal are also referred to generically as air marshals. Occasionally, air force officers of marshal rank are considered to be air marshals.
The AM insignia from the Royal Air Force.
An RAF air marshal's star plate.
|Service branch||Air forces|
|Abbreviation||Air Mshl / AM|
|Formation||1 August 1919 (RAF)|
|Next higher rank||Air chief marshal|
|Next lower rank||Air vice-marshal|
|Field marshal or
General of the Army
the air force
|Admiral||General||Air chief marshal|
|Vice admiral||Lieutenant general||Air marshal|
|Rear admiral||Major general||Air vice-marshal|
|Commander||Lieutenant colonel||Wing commander|
junior grade or
|Second lieutenant||Pilot officer|
|Officer cadet||Officer cadet||Flight cadet|
|Warrant officer or
chief petty officer
|Warrant officer or
|Leading seaman||Corporal or
Prior to the adoption of RAF-specific rank titles in 1919, it was suggested that the RAF might use the Royal Navy's officer ranks, with the word "air" inserted before the naval rank title. For example, the rank that later became air marshal would have been air vice-admiral. The Admiralty objected to any use of their rank titles, including this modified form, and so an alternative proposal was put forward: air-officer ranks would 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 "second ardian" or "wing ardian" being used specifically for the rank equivalent to a vice-admiral and lieutenant-general. However, air marshal was preferred and was adopted on 1 August 1919. The rank of air marshal was first used on 11 August 1919 when Sir Hugh Trenchard was promoted to the rank and it has been used ever since.
The rank insignia consists of two narrow light blue bands (each on a slightly wider black band) over a light blue band on a broad black band. This is worn on the lower sleeves of the dress uniform or on shoulders of the flying suit or working uniform.
The command flag for an air marshal is defined by the single broad red band running in the centre of the flag.
The vehicle star plate for an air marshal depicts three white stars (air marshal is equivalent to a three-star rank) on an air force blue background.
An RAF air marshal's shoulder board
The rank of air marshal is also used in a number of the air forces in the Commonwealth, including the Bangladesh Air Force, Indian Air Force, Pakistan Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force. It is also used in the Nigerian Air Force, Ghana Air Force, Hellenic Air Force (antipterarchos), Air Force of Zimbabwe (including its predecessor, the Rhodesian Air Force) and the Royal Thai Air Force. In the Indonesian Air Force, the equivalent rank is marsekal madya (literally "vice marshal") which is often translated as air marshal in English; similarly, the rank of فريق (fariq) in the Egyptian Air Force is commonly translated as "air marshal", although the Arabic-language names of officer ranks are the same across all of Egypt's military and paramilitary forces.
The Brazilian Air Force does not use air marshal ranks as an equivalent to general ranks, rather it uses a number of ranks based on the word brigadier. However, its highest rank is marechal-do-ar, the equivalent to a Brazilian Army marshal. Marechal-do-ar can be translated as air marshal or marshal of the air. Similarly, the Royal Malaysian Air Force's five-star rank of marshal udara translates as air marshal.
The Australian Air Corps adopted the RAF rank system on 9 November 1920 and this usage was continued by its successor, the Royal Australian Air Force. However, the rank of air marshal was not used by the Australian Armed Forces until 1940 when Richard Williams, an RAAF officer, was promoted.
In Australia, there are four appointments available for air marshals: the Chief of Air Force and, at times when they are occupied by an air force officer, the Vice Chief of Defence Force, the Chief of Joint Operations, and the Chief of Capability Development Group.
In New Zealand, the head of the air force holds the lower rank of air vice-marshal. However, when an air force officer holds the country's senior military appointment, Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force, he is granted the rank of air marshal. The current Chief of Defence Force is an RNZAF officer, Air Marshal Kevin Short.
Other officers to hold Air Marshal rank in New Zealand are:
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) used the rank until the 1968 unification of the Canadian Forces, when army-type rank titles were adopted and an air marshal became a lieutenant-general. In official French Canadian usage, the rank title was maréchal de l'air. The Canadian Chief of the Air Staff ordinarily held the rank of air marshal. The following RCAF officers held the rank (dates in rank in parentheses):
The Air Member for Materiel is the senior Royal Air Force officer responsible for procurement matters: he is a member of the Air Force Board. He is in charge of all aspects of procurement and organisation for RAF regular, reserve and civilian staffs worldwide.Air Member for Personnel
The Air Member for Personnel (AMP) is the senior Royal Air Force officer who is responsible for personnel matters and is a member of the Air Force Board. The AMP is in charge of all aspects of recruiting, non-operational flying and ground training, career management, welfare, terms and conditions of service, and resettlement for RAF regular, reserve and civilian staffs worldwide.
In 1918 on the establishment of the post it was titled the Master-General of Personnel, while from 1919 to 1923 the post was designated as the Director of Personnel. Thereafter it has been known by its current title, the Air Member for Personnel. In 1994 with the establishment of Personnel and Training Command (PTC), the post of Commander-in-Chief PTC and the Air Member for Personnel were held concurrently by a single officer at any one time. In 2007 PTC was disbanded and from then onward, the Air Member for Personnel has been double-hatted as Deputy Commander-in-Chief Air Command with responsibility for No. 22 Group RAF and RAF personnel management functions.Air chief marshal
Air chief marshal (Air Chf Mshl or ACM) is a four-star air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force, where it is the most senior peacetime air force rank. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries that have historical British influence and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-British air force-specific rank structure.
Air chief marshal is a four-star air officer rank and has a NATO ranking code of OF-9. An air chief marshal is equivalent to an admiral in the Royal Navy or a general in the British Army or the Royal Marines. In other forces, such as the United States Armed Forces and the Canadian Armed Forces, the equivalent four-star rank is general.
The rank of air chief marshal is immediately senior to the rank of air marshal but subordinate to marshal of the Royal Air Force. Air chief marshals are sometimes generically considered to be air marshals.Air marshal (Australia)
Air marshal (abbreviated as AIRMSHL) is the second highest active rank of the Royal Australian Air Force and was created as a direct equivalent of the British Royal Air Force rank of air marshal, it is also considered a three-star rank. The rank is held by the Chief of Air Force (CAF), and when the Vice Chief of the Defence Force (VCDF), the Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS) and/or the Chief of the Capability Development executive (CCDE) are Air Force officers.
Air marshal is a higher rank than air vice-marshal and is lower than air chief marshal. It is a direct equivalent of vice admiral in the Royal Australian Navy and lieutenant general in the Australian Army.
The insignia is two light blue bands (each on a slightly wider black band) over a light blue band on a black broad band.
The Australian Air Corps adopted the RAF rank system on 9 November 1920 and this usage was continued by its successor, the Royal Australian Air Force. However, the rank of air marshal was not used by the Australian Armed Forces until 1940 when Richard Williams, a RAAF officer, was promoted.Air vice-marshal
Air vice-marshal (AVM) is a two-star air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence 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. Air vice-marshals may be addressed generically as "air marshal".Air vice-marshal is a two-star rank and has a NATO ranking code of OF-7. It is equivalent to a rear-admiral in the Royal Navy or a major-general in the British Army or the Royal Marines. In other NATO forces, such as the United States Armed Forces and the Canadian Armed Forces, the equivalent two-star rank is major general.
The rank of air vice-marshal is immediately senior to the rank air commodore and immediately subordinate to the rank of air marshal. Since before the Second World War it has been common for air officers commanding RAF groups to hold the rank of air vice-marshal. In small air forces such as the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Ghana Air Force, the head of the air force holds the rank of air vice-marshal.
The equivalent rank in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force, Women's Royal Air Force (until 1968) and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (until 1980) was "air chief commandant".Birender Singh Dhanoa
Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, VM, ADC is the 25th Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force. He assumed the post on 31 December 2016 after Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha retired.Chief of Air Force (Australia)
Chief of Air Force (CAF) is the most senior appointment in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), responsible to the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) and the Secretary of the Department of Defence. The rank associated with the position is air marshal (three-star). The role encompasses "the delivery of aerospace capability, enhancing the Air Force's reputation and positioning the Air Force for the future". It does not include direction of air operations, which is the purview of the Air Commander Australia, a two-star position responsible directly to CDF in such circumstances but nominally reporting to CAF.
Between 1922 and 1997, the Air Force's senior officer was known as Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), a role akin to a chairman of the board. The Australian Air Board was collectively responsible for directing the RAAF, rather than the CAS personally. Wing Commander (later Air Marshal Sir) Richard Williams, often referred to as the "Father of the RAAF", was the first and longest-serving Chief of the Air Staff. In 1976 the Air Board was dissolved and CAS was invested with the individual responsibility for commanding the RAAF. The position of CAS became known as Chief of Air Force in 1997.
The Chief of Air Force may be selected from any of the RAAF's air vice-marshal appointments, although the Air Commander or Deputy Chief of Air Force are the most frequent appointees. While every chief to date has been a pilot, since the mid-1970s there has been no legal restriction on appointees from other disciplines. The CAF is appointed by the Prime Minister and is usually a fixed-term tenure, after which the member normally retires, unless offered the more senior role of CDF. Four heads of the RAAF have gone on to attain the position of CDF or equivalent.Comparative air force officer ranks of the Commonwealth
Rank comparison chart of air forces of Commonwealth of Nations states.Federal Air Marshal Service
The Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) is a United States federal law enforcement agency under the supervision of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). "The Air Marshal Service is meant to promote confidence in civil aviation by effectively deploying federal air marshals (FAMs) to detect, deter, and defeat hostile acts targeting the United States."Because of the nature of their occupation, federal air marshals (FAMs) travel often. They must also train to be highly proficient marksmen. Since the 1990s, air marshals are considered to have the highest firearms qualification standards of all United States federal law enforcement agencies. A FAM's job is to blend in with other passengers on board aircraft and rely heavily on their training, including investigative techniques, criminal terrorist behavior recognition, firearms proficiency, aircraft-specific tactics, and close quarters self-defense measures to protect the flying public."Hari Chand Dewan
Air Marshal Hari Chand Dewan (20 September 1921 – 22 August 2017) was an Indian Air Force officer. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1972 for his services at the head of the Eastern Air Command in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. He was commissioned in 1940. He also received Param Vishist Seva Medal in 1969. Dewan died in August 2017 at the age of 95.Inamul Haque Khan
Air Marshal Inamul Haque Khan (Urdu:إنعام الحـــق خان; 23 May 1927 – 10 August 2017) HI(M), SI(M), HJ, was a three-star air officer in the Pakistan Air Force who is known for his role as AOC of the Dacca airbase of the Pakistan Air Force.
In 1971, Inamul Haque Khan, as Air Commodore, was one of the highest-ranking officer who was taken war prisoner by India after Eastern Command's Commander Lieutenant-General A.A.K. Niazi signed an instrument of surrender with Indian Army's Eastern Command GOC-in-C, Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora.
After his repatriation in 1973, he continued to serve in the Air Force with distinction, and eventually joined President General Zia-ul-Haq's administration where he held many cabinet ministries. He was a prolific poet and writer, and published his memoir, Memoirs of Insignificance, in 1999.Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its complement of personnel and aircraft assets ranks fourth amongst the airforces of the world. Its primary mission is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during armed conflict. It was officially established on 8 October 1932 as an auxiliary air force of the British Empire which honoured India's aviation service during World War II with the prefix Royal. After India gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, the name Royal Indian Air Force was kept and served in the name of Dominion of India. With the government's transition to a Republic in 1950, the prefix Royal was removed after only three years.
Since 1950 the IAF has been involved in four wars with neighboring Pakistan and one with the People's Republic of China. Other major operations undertaken by the IAF include Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdoot, Operation Cactus and Operation Poomalai. The IAF's mission expands beyond engagement with hostile forces, with the IAF participating in United Nations peacekeeping missions.
The President of India holds the rank of Supreme Commander of the IAF. As of 1 July 2017, 139,576 personnel are in service with the Indian Air Force. The Chief of Air Staff, an air chief marshal, is a four-star officer and is responsible for the bulk of operational command of the Air Force. There is never more than one serving ACM at any given time in the IAF. The rank of Marshal of the Air Force has been conferred by the President of India on one occasion in history, to Arjan Singh. On 26 January 2002 Singh became the first and so far, only five-star rank officer of the IAF.RAF Air Command
Headquarters Air Command is the only Command currently active in the Royal Air Force. It was formed by the merger of Royal Air Force Strike and Personnel and Training Commands on 1 April 2007, and has its headquarters at RAF High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The equivalent in the Royal Navy is Navy Command Headquarters at Portsmouth and the equivalent in the British Army is Army Headquarters at Andover.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 Second Tactical Air Force
The RAF Second Tactical Air Force (2TAF) was one of three tactical air forces within the Royal Air Force (RAF) during and after the Second World War. It was made up of squadrons and personnel from the RAF, the air forces of the British Commonwealth and exiles from German-occupied Europe. Renamed as British Air Forces of Occupation in 1945, 2TAF was recreated in 1951 and became Royal Air Force Germany in 1959.RAF Strike Command
The Royal Air Force's Strike Command was the military formation which controlled the majority of the United Kingdom's bomber and fighter aircraft from 1968 until 2007 when it merged with Personnel and Training Command to form the single Air Command. It latterly consisted of two formations – No. 1 Group RAF and No. 2 Group RAF. The last Commander-in-Chief was Air Chief Marshal Sir Joe French.RAF officer ranks
The officer ranks of the Royal Air Force, as they are today, were introduced in 1919. Prior to that Army ranks were used.Sky marshal
A sky marshal (also known as air marshal, flight marshal, or, in the United States, FAM) is a covert law enforcement or counter-terrorist agent on board a commercial aircraft to counter aircraft hijackings. Sky marshals may be provided by airlines such as El Al (who provide sky marshals on every flight), or by government agencies such as the Austrian Einsatzkommando Cobra, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, German Federal Police, National Security Guard in India, Metropolitan Police SO18 (Aviation Security Operational Command Unit), Pakistan Airports Security Force or US Federal Air Marshal Service.Three-star rank
An officer of three-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-8. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, three-star officers hold the rank of vice admiral, lieutenant general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air marshal.