RAF other ranks

The term used in the Royal Air Force (RAF) to refer to all ranks below commissioned officer level is other ranks (ORs). It includes warrant officers (WOs), non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and airmen.

Ranks

NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(Edit)
British RAF OR-9 No equivalent British RAF OR-7b British RAF OR-7a British RAF OR-6 No equivalent British RAF OR-4 British RAF OR-3 British RAF OR-2c British RAF OR-2b British RAF OR-2a No insignia
Warrant officer Flight sergeant Chief technician Sergeant Corporal Lance corporal
RAF Regiment only
Senior aircraftman/
woman technician
Senior aircraftman/ woman Leading aircraftman/ woman Aircraftman/ woman
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(Aircrew)
(Edit)
British RAF (Aircrew) OR-9 No equivalent British RAF (Aircrew) OR-7 British RAF (Aircrew) OR-6 No equivalent
Master aircrew Flight sergeant aircrew Sergeant aircrew
Abbreviation WO/MAcr FS Chf Tech Sgt Cpl L/Cpl SAC Tech SAC LAC AC

Origins

Upon the formation of the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918, rank titles and badges for ORs were adopted from the British Army, specifically the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The RFC ranks of Flight Sergeant (equivalent to Staff Sergeant), Sergeant, Corporal and Air Mechanic were directly adopted. The RFC's four-bladed propeller trade classification badge above the Sergeants' and Flight Sergeants' chevrons was dropped.

To distinguish them from Army personnel, RAF personnel wore the RAF Eagle on a rectangular patch below the shoulder seam on the sleeve. The RAF Eagle is depicted with its beak turned to the rear rather than the front. RAF NCOs were fond of saying that represented that their eyes were everywhere.

The trade classification of Leading Aircraftman was created on 5 April 1918 to fill a void in the Service ranks. It was granted the double-bladed propeller rank insignia of the RFC Air Mechanic 1st Class and was equivalent in rank and authority to the Army appointment of Lance-Corporal. On 1 January 1919 the rank of Aircraftman replaced the ranks of Private, Air Mechanic, and Clerk. Aircraftmen were nicknamed "Erks" (a corruption of the word 'Aircraft') by the senior ranks, which was preferred to 'other ranks' or 'troops'.

The rank of Master Clerk was originally equivalent to Sergeant Major 1st Class. On 28 November 1918, the new rank of Chief Master Clerk was made equivalent to the rank of Sergeant Major 1st Class, and the old rank of Master Clerk was made equivalent to the rank of Sergeant Major 2nd Class.

RAF other ranks (1 April 1918)[1] RAF other ranks (1 January 1919)[2]
Technical Administrative Service other ranks
Chief Master Mechanic (Chief Master Clerk) Sergeant Major 1st Class Sergeant Major 1st Class
Master Mechanic (Master Clerk) Sergeant Major 2nd Class Sergeant Major 2nd Class
Chief Mechanic Flight Clerk Flight Sergeant Flight Sergeant
Sergeant Mechanic Sergeant Clerk Sergeant Sergeant
Corporal Mechanic Corporal Clerk Corporal Corporal
Air Mechanic 1st Class Clerk 1st Class (Leading Aircraftman) Leading Aircraftman
Air Mechanic 2nd Class Clerk 2nd Class Private 1st Class Aircraftman 1st Class
Air Mechanic 3rd Class Clerk 3rd Class Private 2nd Class Aircraftman 2nd Class

The original RAF ranks are vertically listed by seniority; the Technical ranks had precedence over the Administrative ranks, which in turn had precedence over the Service ranks. This was meant to keep non-technical NCOs from interfering with the efforts of technical and administrative NCOs. This was abolished in January 1919 and a streamlined single-column rank system was devised.

Changes in 1933 & 1939 — warrant officers

In 1933, the ranks of Sergeant Major 1st Class and Sergeant Major 2nd Class were renamed Warrant Officer Class I and Warrant Officer Class II to put them in line with the Army. In 1939, the rank of Warrant Officer II was abolished and the rank of Warrant Officer I was renamed Warrant Officer. RAF Warrant Officers were given equivalent status to the continuing Army rank of Warrant Officer Class I.

Changes in 1946 — aircrew

On 1 July 1946, NCOs serving as aircrew were assigned different rank badges which distinguished them from ORs in ground trades. The new ranks were:

RAF aircrew ranks (1946-1950)
RAF aircrew rank equivalent RAF rank insignia of rank
Master Aircrew Warrant Officer Wreath closed by Royal Arms and inset with an RAF Eagle within.
Aircrew I Flight Sergeant Crown over Wreath closed by an RAF Eagle and inset with three 6-pointed stars within.
Aircrew II Sergeant Wreath closed by an RAF Eagle and inset with three 6-pointed stars within.
Aircrew III Corporal Wreath closed by an RAF Eagle and inset with two 6-pointed stars within.
Aircrew IV Leading Aircraftman Wreath closed by an RAF Eagle and inset with one 6-pointed star within.
Aircrew Cadet Trainee Wreath closed by an RAF Eagle and a blank field within.

The RAF Eagle in the insignia is properly displayed with its beak turned to the rear.

Changes in 1950 – technicians and aircrew

In 1950, a new grading system for technicians was introduced. This involved the creation of the following ranks:

RAF technician ranks (1950–1964)
RAF technician rank equivalent RAF rank insignia of rank
Master Technician Warrant Officer Royal Arms
Chief Technician Flight Sergeant Three inverted chevrons surmounted by a crown.
Senior Technician Sergeant Three inverted chevrons
Corporal Technician Corporal Two inverted chevrons
Junior Technician Leading Aircraftman One inverted chevron

Also in 1950, the unpopular NCO aircrew ranks were abolished, although Master Aircrew was retained as a rank. Aircrew I became Flight Sergeant Aircrew and Aircrew II, III and IV became Sergeant Aircrew. Both new ranks adopted a gold RAF Eagle between the chevrons to permit continuing distinction from ground trades. Aircrew cadets wore the RAF Eagle on its own as a trade classification badge.

RAF-Master Aircrew-OR-9 RAF-Flt Sgt AC-OR-7 RAF-Sgt AC-OR-6
UK-Air-OR9A OR7c RAF Flight Sergeant Acr OR5n6b RAF Sergeant Acr
Master Aircrew Flight Sergeant Aircrew Sergeant Aircrew

Changes in 1951 — junior ranks

On 1 January 1951, two junior ranks were introduced:

  • Senior Aircraftman/Senior Aircraftwoman with a triple-bladed propeller.
  • Leading Aircraftman/Leading Aircraftwoman with a double-bladed propeller (this had previously been only a trade classification and not a rank)

Changes in 1964 — technicians

In 1964, the technician ranks were abolished, with the exception of Junior Technician and Chief Technician, the latter becoming an intermediate rank between Sergeant and Flight Sergeant for Technical Trades. Junior Technicians adopted the four-bladed propeller as their badge of rank and Chief Technicians adopted a treble chevron surmounted by a four-bladed propeller as their rank insignia. Master Technicians, Senior Technicians and Corporal Technicians became Warrant Officer, Sergeant and Corporal respectively. The ORs structure became:

Changes in 2005 — phasing out of Junior Technician

From 2005 onwards, no more airmen have been promoted to Junior Technician. Although there are currently personnel in the rank of Junior Technician, once they have all been promoted or discharged from the RAF, the rank will cease to be used. From March 2005, SACs in technical trades who had attained the Operational Performance Standard were promoted to Senior Aircraftman/Aircraftwoman (Technician) SAC(T) and given a new badge of rank, consisting of the three-bladed propeller inside a circle. This new rank was introduced to distinguish airmen trained to work unsupervised from those who were not, and is equivalent to the old Junior Technician rank.

Changes in 2010 — introduction of Lance Corporal

On 1 April 2010, the RAF Regiment introduced the rank of Lance Corporal for current SACs who undertake the role of section second-in-command/fire team commander. This gives them more authority on the ground, as well as a better pay band. It seems that the rank will not be moving to other trades, and will be solely in the RAF Regiment.[4]

Timeline of changes

Tudor Crown (Heraldry)
Crown of Saint Edward (Heraldry)
In 1953, the crown was changed from the Tudor Crown to the Crown of St Edward, when Queen Elizabeth II adopted a stylised image of the crown for use in coats of arms, badges, logos and various other insignia.[5]
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(1919 – 1933)
1951 RAF Warrant Officer None 1951 RAF Flight Sergeant OR5n6a RAF Sergeant No equivalent OR4 RAF Corporal None No insignia No insignia
Sergeant Major 1st Class Sergeant Major 2nd Class Flight sergeant Sergeant Corporal Leading Aircraftman Aircraftman 1st Class Aircraftman 2nd Class
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(1933 – 1939)
1951 RAF Warrant Officer None 1951 RAF Flight Sergeant OR5n6a RAF Sergeant No equivalent OR4 RAF Corporal None No insignia No insignia
Warrant Officer Class I Warrant Officer Class II Flight sergeant Sergeant Corporal Leading Aircraftman Aircraftman 1st Class Aircraftman 2nd Class
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(1939 – 1946)
1951 RAF Warrant Officer No equivalent 1951 RAF Flight Sergeant OR5n6a RAF Sergeant No equivalent OR4 RAF Corporal None No insignia No insignia
Warrant officer Flight sergeant Sergeant Corporal Leading Aircraftman Aircraftman 1st Class Aircraftman 2nd Class
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(1946 – 1950)
1951 RAF Warrant Officer No equivalent 1951 RAF Flight Sergeant OR5n6a RAF Sergeant No equivalent OR4 RAF Corporal None No insignia No insignia
Warrant officer Flight sergeant Sergeant Corporal Leading Aircraftman Aircraftman 1st Class Aircraftman 2nd Class
None No equivalent None None No equivalent None None No equivalent None
Master aircrew Aircrew I Aircrew II Aircrew III Aircrew IV Aircrew Cadet
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(1950 – 1951)
1951 RAF Warrant Officer 1951 RAF Warrant Officer No equivalent 1951 RAF Flight Sergeant 1951 RAF Chief Technician OR5n6a RAF Sergeant 1953 RAF Senior Technician No equivalent OR4 RAF Corporal 1953 RAF Corporal Technician 1953 RAF Junior Technician None No insignia No insignia
Warrant officer Master Technician Flight sergeant Chief technician Sergeant Senior Technician Corporal Corporal Technician Junior Technician Leading Aircraftman Aircraftman 1st Class Aircraftman 2nd Class
None No equivalent 1951 RAF Flight Sergeant Aircrew OR5n6b RAF Sergeant Acr No equivalent
Master aircrew Flight sergeant aircrew Sergeant aircrew
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(1951 – 1953)
1951 RAF Warrant Officer 1951 RAF Warrant Officer No equivalent 1951 RAF Flight Sergeant 1951 RAF Chief Technician OR5n6a RAF Sergeant 1953 RAF Senior Technician No equivalent OR4 RAF Corporal 1953 RAF Corporal Technician 1953 RAF Junior Technician OR2 RAF Senior Aircraftman OR1 RAF Leading Aircraftman No insignia
Warrant officer Master Technician Flight sergeant Chief technician Sergeant Senior Technician Corporal Corporal Technician Junior Technician Senior aircraftman Leading aircraftman Aircraftman
None No equivalent 1951 RAF Flight Sergeant Aircrew OR5n6b RAF Sergeant Acr No equivalent
Master aircrew Flight sergeant aircrew Sergeant aircrew
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(1953 – 1964)
UK-Air-OR9B UK-Air-OR9B No equivalent OR7b RAF Flight Sergeant 1953 RAF Chief Technician OR5n6a RAF Sergeant 1953 RAF Senior Technician No equivalent OR4 RAF Corporal 1953 RAF Corporal Technician 1953 RAF Junior Technician OR2 RAF Senior Aircraftman OR1 RAF Leading Aircraftman No insignia
Warrant officer Master Technician Flight sergeant Chief technician Sergeant Senior Technician Corporal Corporal Technician Junior Technician Senior aircraftman Leading aircraftman Aircraftman
RAF-Master Aircrew-OR-9 No equivalent OR7c RAF Flight Sergeant Acr OR5n6b RAF Sergeant Acr No equivalent
Master aircrew Flight sergeant aircrew Sergeant aircrew
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(1964 – 2005)
RAF-Warrant Officer-OR-9 No equivalent OR7b RAF Flight Sergeant OR7a RAF Chief Technician OR5n6a RAF Sergeant No equivalent OR4 RAF Corporal OR3 RAF Junior Technician OR2 RAF Senior Aircraftman OR1 RAF Leading Aircraftman No insignia
Warrant officer Flight sergeant Chief technician Sergeant Corporal Junior Technician Senior aircraftman/ woman Leading aircraftman/ woman Aircraftman/ woman
RAF-Master Aircrew-OR-9 No equivalent OR7c RAF Flight Sergeant Acr OR5n6b RAF Sergeant Acr No equivalent
Master aircrew Flight sergeant aircrew Sergeant aircrew
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(2005 – 2015)
RAF-Warrant Officer-OR-9 No equivalent OR7b RAF Flight Sergeant OR7a RAF Chief Technician OR5n6a RAF Sergeant No equivalent OR4 RAF Corporal No equivalent OR2 RAF Senior Aircraftman Technician OR2 RAF Senior Aircraftman OR1 RAF Leading Aircraftman No insignia
Warrant officer Flight sergeant Chief technician Sergeant Corporal Senior aircraftman/
woman technician
Senior aircraftman/ woman Leading aircraftman/ woman Aircraftman/ woman
RAF-Master Aircrew-OR-9 No equivalent OR7c RAF Flight Sergeant Acr OR5n6b RAF Sergeant Acr No equivalent
Master aircrew Flight sergeant aircrew Sergeant aircrew
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom
(2010 – present)
British RAF OR-9 No equivalent British RAF OR-7b British RAF OR-7a British RAF OR-6 No equivalent British RAF OR-4 British RAF OR-3 British RAF OR-2c British RAF OR-2b British RAF OR-2a No insignia
Warrant officer Flight sergeant Chief technician Sergeant Corporal Lance corporal
RAF Regiment only
Senior aircraftman/
woman technician
Senior aircraftman/ woman Leading aircraftman/ woman Aircraftman/ woman
British RAF (Aircrew) OR-9 No equivalent British RAF (Aircrew) OR-7 British RAF (Aircrew) OR-6 No equivalent
Master aircrew Flight sergeant aircrew Sergeant aircrew
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Air Memorandum No. 1 (March 1918)
  2. ^ Air Ministry Weekly Order 109 (1921, reprint of 1923)
  3. ^ Jefford, C.G. (2010). Observers and Navigators: And Other Non-Pilot Aircrew in the RFC, RNAS and RAF. London: Grub Street. p. 285. ISBN 978-1-909808-02-7. Air Ministry Order A.80/1963 of 6 March 1963 replaced the AC1 and AC2 with just 'Aircraftman' with effect from 1 April 1964
  4. ^ Lesley Woods, ed. (12 April 2010). "New Rank for the RAF Regiment". Royal Air Force website. www.RAF.mod.uk. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Victorian Coat of Arms". Victoria State Government. Retrieved 15 December 2015.

External links

British Army other ranks rank insignia

The term used to refer to all ranks below officers is "other ranks" (abbreviated "ORs"). It includes warrant officers, non-commissioned officers ("NCOs") and ordinary soldiers with the rank of private or regimental equivalent. Officers may, in speaking, distinguish themselves from those "in the ranks".

Flight sergeant

Flight sergeant (commonly abbreviated to Flt Sgt, F/Sgt, FSGT or, currently correctly in the RAF, FS) is a senior non-commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and several other air forces which have adopted all or part of the RAF rank structure. It is equivalent to a staff sergeant or colour sergeant in the British Army, a colour sergeant in the Royal Marines, and a chief petty officer in the Royal Navy, and has a NATO rank code of OR-7. In the RAF, flight sergeant ranks above chief technician and below warrant officer.

Junior technician

Junior technician (Jnr Tech or formerly J/T) is a junior non-commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force, the Pakistan Air Force and the Royal Danish Air Force. In the RAF it ranks equivalent to senior aircraftman technician (SAC (T)), equivalent to senior aircraftman (SAC) and below corporal and has a NATO rank code of OR-2. Since 2005, the RAF has ceased promoting to and therefore phasing out of this rank, to be replaced by SAC(T).

List of United Kingdom Cadet Force by Rank

The following table displays the ranks of the Community Cadet Forces (Army Cadet Force, the Sea Cadet Corps, and the Air Training Corps), the Combined Cadet Force, the Volunteer Cadet Corps (RMVCC and RNVCC), and the Girls Venture Corps Air Cadets. This table is based on equivalent Rank Structures within the Cadet Forces as detailed in regulations of the SCC, RMC, and the Air Cadets.

Other ranks (UK)

Other ranks (ORs) in the Royal Marines, British Army, Royal Air Force and in the armies and air forces of many other Commonwealth countries are those personnel who are not commissioned officers, usually including non-commissioned officers (NCOs). (In the Royal Navy, these personnel are called "ratings" rather than "other ranks". Non-commissioned member is the equivalent term for the Canadian Armed Forces.) Colloquially, members of the other ranks are known as "rankers".The term is often considered to exclude warrant officers, and occasionally also excludes NCOs. Formally, a regiment consists of the "officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men" or the "officers, warrant officers and other ranks".

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.

RAF rank system

RAF rank system refers to military ranks of the Royal Air Force and the air forces of other countries, especially in the Commonwealth of Nations, which use similar systems.

For details of this system, see:

RAF officer ranks

RAF other ranks

Ranks of the RAF

Ranks of the RAF may refer to:

RAF officer ranks, for commissioned officers

RAF other ranks, for other (i.e. enlisted) ranks

Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.The RAF's mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), which are to "provide the capabilities needed to ensure the security and defence of the United Kingdom and overseas territories, including against terrorism; to support the Government's foreign policy objectives particularly in promoting international peace and security". The RAF describes its mission statement as "... [to provide] an agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission". The mission statement is supported by the RAF's definition of air power, which guides its strategy. Air power is defined as "the ability to project power from the air and space to influence the behaviour of people or the course of events".Today the Royal Air Force maintains an operational fleet of various types of aircraft, described by the RAF as being "leading-edge" in terms of technology. This largely consists of fixed-wing aircraft, including: fighter and strike aircraft, airborne early warning and control aircraft, ISTAR and SIGINT aircraft, aerial refueling aircraft and strategic and tactical transport aircraft. The majority of the RAF's rotary-wing aircraft form part of the tri-service Joint Helicopter Command in support of ground forces. Most of the RAF's aircraft and personnel are based in the UK, with many others serving on operations (principally over Iraq and Syria) or at long-established overseas bases (Ascension Island, Cyprus, Gibraltar, and the Falkland Islands). Although the RAF is the principal British air power arm, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and the British Army's Army Air Corps also deliver air power which is integrated into the maritime, littoral and land environments.

Royal Navy ratings rank insignia

This is a list of British Royal Navy ratings rank insignia.

Senior aircraftman

Senior aircraftman (SAC) or senior aircraftwoman (SACW) is a rank in the Royal Air Force, ranking between leading aircraftman and senior aircraftman technician (SAC(T)) (although SACs in non-technical trades progress directly to corporal) and having a NATO rank code of OR-2. The rank, which is non-supervisory, was introduced on 1 January 1951. The rank badge is a three-bladed propeller.

Uniforms of the Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force uniform is the standardised military dress worn by members of the Royal Air Force. The predominant colours of Royal Air Force uniforms are blue-grey and Wedgwood blue. Many Commonwealth air forces' uniforms are also based on the RAF pattern, but with nationality shoulder flashes. Cadets of the RAFAC which includes the ATC and CCF (RAF) Sections wear similar uniforms.

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