Squadron leader

Squadron leader (Sqn Ldr in the RAF ; SQNLDR in the RAAF and RNZAF; formerly sometimes S/L in all services) is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force[1] and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure.

An air force squadron leader ranks above flight lieutenant and immediately below wing commander and it is the most junior of the senior officer ranks. The air force rank of squadron leader has a NATO ranking code of OF-3, equivalent to a lieutenant-commander in the Royal Navy or a major in the British Army or the Royal Marines. 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 "squadron officer".

Squadron leader has also been used as a cavalry command appointment (UK) and rank (France) since at least the nineteenth century. In Argentina it is used as a command appointment by both the army's cavalry and by the air force's flying units. The cavalry rank of squadron leader in France is also an OF-4 equivalent to a major, and the cavalry appointment of squadron leader in the UK generally corresponds to this rank as well.

A squadron leader's sleeve/shoulder insignia


The rank originated in the British Royal Air Force and was adopted by several other air forces which use, or used, the RAF rank system.

On 1 April 1918, the newly created RAF adopted its officer rank titles from the British Army, with Royal Naval Air Service lieutenant commanders and Royal Flying Corps majors becoming majors in the RAF. 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. For example, the rank that later became squadron leader would have been air lieutenant commander. However, the Admiralty objected to this modification of their rank titles. The rank title squadron leader was chosen as squadrons were typically led by RAF majors and the term squadron commander had been used in the Royal Naval Air Service. The rank of squadron leader has been used continuously since 1 August 1919.

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
Second lieutenant Pilot officer
Officer cadet Officer cadet Flight cadet
Enlisted grades
Warrant officer or
chief petty officer
Warrant officer or
sergeant major
Warrant officer
Petty officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading seaman Corporal or
Seaman Private or
gunner or
Aircraftman or

RAF usage

From 1 April 1918 to 31 July 1919, the RAF used major as the equivalent rank to squadron leader. Royal Naval Air Service lieutenant-commanders and Royal Flying Corps majors on 31 March 1918 became RAF majors on 1 April 1918. On 31 August 1919, the RAF rank of major was superseded by squadron leader which has remained in continuous usage ever since. Promotion to squadron leader is strictly on merit, and requires the individual to be appointed to a Career Commission, which will see them remain in the RAF until retirement or voluntary resignation.

Before the Second World War, a squadron leader commanded a squadron of aircraft. Today, however, a flying squadron is usually commanded by a wing commander, with each of the two flights under a squadron leader. However, ground-operating squadrons which are sub-divisions of a wing are ordinarily commanded by a squadron leader. This includes squadrons of the RAF Regiment and University Air Squadrons.

Insignia and command flag

The rank insignia consists of a thin blue band on a slightly wider black band between two narrow blue bands on slightly wider black bands. This is worn on both the lower sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulders of the flying suit or the casual uniform.

Squadron leaders are the lowest ranking officers that may fly a command flag. The flag may be depicted on the officer's aircraft or, should the squadron leader be in command, the flag may be flown from a flagpole or displayed on an official car as a car flag. If the squadron leader is in command of a numbered squadron, then the number of the squadron is also shown on the flag.


An RAF squadron leader's sleeve/shoulder insignia


An RAF squadron leader's sleeve mess insignia


An RAF squadron leader's command flag

RAF-Sqn Ldr-OF-3

An RAF squadron leader's sleeve on No.1 service dress uniform

Other air forces

The rank of squadron leader is also used in a number of the air forces in the Commonwealth, including the Bangladesh Air Force (BAF), Ghana Air Force, Indian Air Force (IAF), Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF), Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Nigerian Air Force (NAF), and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). It is also used in the Egyptian Air Force, Hellenic Air Force, Royal Air Force of Oman the Royal Thai Air Force and the Air Force of Zimbabwe

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) used the rank until the unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968, when army-type rank titles were adopted. Canadian squadron leaders were retitled as majors. In official French Canadian usage, a squadron leader's rank title was commandant d'aviation. The Chilean Air Force equivalent rank, in Chilean Spanish, is comandante de escuadrilla or squadron commander.

Rank insignia of squadron leader RAAF

An RAAF squadron leader's sleeve/shoulder insignia


A RNZAF squadron leader's sleeve/shoulder insignia

Hellenic Air Force OF-3

A Hellenic Air Force Episminagos (squadron leader's) rank insignia

Squadron Leader of IAF

An Indian Air Force squadron leader's rank insignia

A RTAF squadron leader's rank insignia

Sqn Ldr Pakistan Air Force

A PAF squadron-leader's shoulder rank insignia.

A FACh squadron commander's shoulder rank insignia.

An EAF squadron leader's rank insignia.

Land forces

In the British Household Cavalry and Royal Armoured Corps, "squadron leader" is the title (but not the rank) often given to the commander of a squadron (company) of armoured fighting vehicles. The squadron leader is usually a major, although in the Second World War the post was often held by a captain.

See also


  1. ^ "Ranks and Badges of the Royal Air Force". Royal Air Force. 2007. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2007.

External links

Bert Hinkler

Herbert John Louis Hinkler (8 December 1892 – 7 January 1933), better known as Bert Hinkler, was a pioneer Australian aviator (dubbed "Australian Lone Eagle") and inventor. He designed and built early aircraft before being the first person to fly solo from England to Australia, and the first person to fly solo across the Southern Atlantic Ocean. He married in 1932 at the age of 39, and died less than a year later after crashing into remote countryside near Florence, Italy during a solo flight record attempt.

Cambridge University Air Squadron

Cambridge University Air Squadron, abbreviated CUAS, formed in 1925, is the training unit of the Royal Air Force at the University of Cambridge and forms part of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. It is the oldest of 15 University Air Squadrons in the UK. For many years it was based at Cambridge Airport at Teversham.

Comparative air force officer ranks of the Commonwealth

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


An equerry (; from French écurie 'stable', and related to écuyer 'squire') is an officer of honour. Historically, it was a senior attendant with responsibilities for the horses of a person of rank. In contemporary use, it is a personal attendant, usually upon a sovereign, a member of a royal family, or a national representative. The role is equivalent to an aide-de-camp, but the term is now prevalent only in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Lieutenant commander

Lieutenant commander (also hyphenated lieutenant-commander and abbreviated LCdr, LCdr. or LCDR) is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander. The corresponding rank in most armies (armed services) and air forces is major, and in the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces is squadron leader.

The NATO rank code is mostly OF-3.A lieutenant commander is a senior department officer or the executive officer (second-in-command) on many warships and smaller shore installation, or the commanding officer of a smaller ship/installation. They are also senior department officers in naval aviation squadrons.

Major (United Kingdom)

Major (Maj) is a military rank which is used by both the British Army and Royal Marines. The rank is superior to captain, and subordinate to lieutenant colonel. The insignia for a major is a crown. The equivalent rank in the Royal Navy is lieutenant commander, and squadron leader in the Royal Air Force.

Muhammad Hamidullah Khan

M. Hamidullah Khan, TJ, SH, BP (Bengali: এম হামিদুল্লাহ খান; 11 September 1938 – 30 December 2011) was a military leader in two wars fought in South Asia: the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and the 1971 Bangladesh Independence War.

During the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War, Hamidullah was awarded Sitara-e-Harb War Medal for his dedication, and Tamgha-e-Jurat Gallantry Medal for his courage in the September 1965 Pathankot infiltration. In the Bangladesh Independence War, he planned and commanded the Chilmari Battle, one of the most strategically significant battles fought during the war of Independence of Bangladesh within the Mankachar sub~sector boundary of Sector 11.

During the war in 1971, he held three posts. As an official of the Bangladesh Government, Hamidullah was the Principal Representative of Guerilla Training Chakulia. He was then posted to Teldhala, Bangladesh Forces (BDF) Sector 11, headquarters at Teldhala, Assam India, and appointed BDF Commander of Mankachar Sub-Sector 1 and additionally in charge of independent Roumari area. On 3 November 1971, Hamidullah Khan was appointed Commander of Sector 11 of Bangladesh Forces.

M. Hamidullah Khan was the Bangladesh representative during the 34th UNGA,United Nations General Assembly session in 1979 as Bangladesh Special Envoy on the question of granting recognition to the State of Palestine and the plenary session on UN Resolutions 242 and 439 on the question of Palestine and Namibia respectively. He held numerous public appointments and elected posts during his service to the country. Upon his death President of Bangladesh Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave M. Hamidullah Khan a state funeral with full military honors.

No. 16 Squadron RAF

No. 16 Squadron is a flying squadron of the Royal Air Force. It formed in 1915 at Saint-Omer to carry out a mixture of offensive patrolling and reconnaissance and was disbanded in 1919 with the end of the First World War. The squadron reformed on 1 April 1924 and again took on a reconnaissance role which it continued throughout the Second World War.

Post-war, the squadron was disbanded and reformed several times and was converted to a bomber squadron. Equipped with the Tornado GR.1 from 1984 the squadron took part in the Gulf War in 1990. It was again disbanded in September 1991, before reforming in November 1991 as the Operational Conversion Unit for the Jaguar. With the Jaguar's imminent withdrawal from service, the squadron disbanded once more in 2005.

16 Squadron reformed again and took on its current role on 1 October 2008. Based at RAF Wittering, it instructs pilots in elementary flying using the Tutor.

No. 1 Squadron RAF

No. 1 (F) Squadron is a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was the first squadron to fly a VTOL aircraft. It currently operates Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth.

The squadron motto, In omnibus princeps ("First in all things") reflects the squadron's status as the RAF's oldest unit, having been involved in almost every major British military operation from the First World War to the present time. These include the Second World War, Suez Crisis, Falklands War, Gulf War, Kosovo War, and Operation Telic (Iraq).

No. 208 Squadron RAF

No 208 (Reserve) Squadron was a reserve unit of the Royal Air Force, most recently based at RAF Valley, Anglesey, Wales. It operated the BAe Hawk aircraft, as a part of No. 4 Flying Training School. Due to obsolescence of its Hawk T.1 aircraft compared to the new-build Hawk T.2 aircraft of its sister unit, 4(R) Sqn, the squadron was disbanded in April 2016, in its 100th year of operations.

No. 211 Squadron RAF

No. 211 Squadron RAF was a squadron in the Royal Air Force active from 1917 to 1919 and from 1937 to 1946. In World War I it operated as a bomber and later a reconnaissance unit on the Western Front. In World War II it operated as a medium bomber unit in the Middle East and Far East and later as a strike fighter unit in the Far East, equipped with, successively, the Bristol Blenheim, the Bristol Beaufighter and de Havilland Mosquito.

No. 24 Squadron RAF

No. 24 Squadron (also known as No. XXIV Squadron) of the Royal Air Force is the Air Mobility Operational Conversion Unit (AMOCU). Based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, 24 Sqn is responsible for aircrew training (C-130J Hercules and A400M Atlas) and engineer training (C130J Hercules, A400M Atlas and C17 Globemaster). The Sqn also provides training support, management and governance to the entire AM Force.

No. 28 Squadron RAF

No. 28 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Puma and Chinook helicopters from RAF Benson.

No. 2 Squadron RAF

Not to be confused with No. 2 Squadron RAF Regiment

Number 2 Squadron, also known as Number II (Army Co-operation) Squadron, is a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It is currently equipped with the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4.

No. 2 Squadron's traditional army co-operation role is reflected in the "AC" of its title, its motto Hereward (Guardian of the Army), and the symbol of a Wake knot on its crest. Its unofficial nickname is "Shiny Two".

No. 453 Squadron RAAF

No. 453 Squadron is an air traffic control unit of the Royal Australian Air Force. It was established at Bankstown, New South Wales, in 1941 as a fighter squadron, in accordance with Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme for overseas service with the Royal Air Force during World War II. No. 453 Squadron saw combat first in the Malayan and Singapore campaigns of 1941–42. Severe aircraft losses effectively destroyed the squadron and it was disbanded in March 1942. A successor unit by the same name was raised in Britain from mid-1942, to take part in fighting against Nazi Germany in Europe until 1945. The squadron was disbanded in 1946. It was re-formed in its current role in 2011.

No. 45 Squadron RAF

45 Squadron is a flying squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was established on 1 March 1916 as part of the Royal Flying Corps.

No. 4 Squadron RAF

No. 4 Squadron, sometimes written as No. IV Squadron, of the Royal Air Force operates the BAE Hawk T2 in the training role from RAF Valley, as a part of No. 4 Flying Training School.

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.

Rayner Glacier

Rayner Glacier (67°40′S 48°25′E) is a prominent glacier, 19 kilometres (10 nmi) wide, flowing north to the coast of Enderby Land just west of Condon Hills. It was sighted in October 1956 by Squadron Leader D. Leckie during a flight in an ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions) Beaver aircraft, and named by ANCA for J.M. Rayner, Director of the Bureau of Mineral Resources in the Australian Department of National Development.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.