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The ranks of the Australian Air Force Cadets(AAFC) are closely based on the ranks of the Royal Australian Air Force. As such, a system of differentiation was required to distinguish members of the AAFC from those of the RAAF. This means that cadet ranks wear rank slides which are AFB (Air Force Blue) with an embroidered light blue ribbon, 1 cm wide at the base of the rank slide with 'AAFC' in AFB embroidery. Adult members of the AAFC wear rank slides with an embroidered white bar that contains the letters AAFC in place of the light blue bar. Adult ranks are also followed by the letters AAFC (in brackets) when written, to distinguish them from actual members of the RAAF. Cadet Non-Commissioned Officer ranks are prefixed with the letter C, to identify them as cadets and not adult staff or members of the RAAF.

A new cadet is initially enrolled with the rank of Cadet and after completing prescribed training and length of service, they are eligible for reclassification to the rank of Leading Cadet. Subsequent promotions are achieved by completing two week training courses known as a promotion courses along with meeting time-in-rank and minimum age requirements and receiving a recommendation for promotion from the cadet's Commanding Officer.

Ranks and Abbreviations

Roles & requirements of each staff rank can be found here. Roles of each cadet rank can be found here.
The ranks of the AAFC are as follows, in order from lowest to highest:

Ranks in the AAFC

Cadet Ranks of the AAFC
Insignia Rankslide AAFC CDT.jpg Rankslide AAFC LCDT.jpg Rankslide AAFC CCPL.jpg Rankslide AAFC CSGT.jpg Rankslide AAFC CFSGT.jpg Rankslide AAFC CWOFF.jpg Rankslide AAFC CUO.jpg
Rank Cadet Leading Cadet Cadet Corporal Cadet Sergeant Cadet Flight Sergeant Cadet Warrant Officer Cadet Under Officer

* Cadet Recruit is not an official rank, but commonly refers to new cadets who have not yet finalised the enrolment process but are attending training, or are in the recruit training stage. Cadets holding the Cadet Recruit rank are not given a rank slide until they complete recruit stage training.

Instructor Ranks of the AAFC (Instructor of Cadets - IOC)[1]
Insignia Rankslide AAFC AC.jpg Rankslide AAFC LAC.jpg Rankslide AAFC CPL.jpg Rankslide AAFC SGT.jpg Rankslide AAFC FSGT.jpg Rankslide AAFC WOFF.jpg
Rank Aircraftman (AAFC)/

Aircraftwoman (AAFC)

Leading Aircraftman (AAFC)/

Leading Aircraftwoman (AAFC)

Corporal (AAFC) Sergeant (AAFC) Flight Sergeant (AAFC) Warrant Officer (AAFC)
Officer Ranks of the AAFC (Officer of Cadets - OOC)[2]
Insignia Rankslide AAFC PLTOFF.jpg Rankslide AAFC FLGOFF.jpg Rankslide AAFC FLTLT.jpg Rankslide AAFC SQNLDR.jpg Rankslide AAFC WGCDR.jpg Rankslide AAFC GPCAPT.jpg
Rank Pilot Officer (AAFC) Flying Officer (AAFC) Flight Lieutenant (AAFC) Squadron Leader (AAFC) Wing Commander (AAFC) Group Captain (AAFC)

Cadet Ranks

Junior Ranks

Junior ranks comprise the ranks of Cadet (CDT) and Leading Cadet (LCDT) as well as the informal title of Recruit.

Cadets join the AAFC as recruits at the rank of Cadet (CDT) and commence Cadet Recruit Stage training which comprises the subjects Drill and Ceremonial, Service Knowledge, and Fieldcraft. Cadet Recruit Stage may include a teambuilding weekend or training weekend. Recruits receive their PH299 'blue book' (a form of identification carried at all times by cadets) and uniforms some time during Cadet Recruit Stage. Cadet Recruit Stage usually takes less than 1 month to complete.

Upon completion of the Recruit Stage of training, CDTs begin Basic Stage. Basic Stage, on average, takes 6 months to fully complete. By completing Basic Stage, a cadet is eligible for reclassification to the rank of Leading Cadet (LCDT). A LCDT rank slide features a single inverted chevron.

Cadet Non-Commissioned Officer Ranks

Cadet Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) ranks are Cadet Corporal (CCPL), Cadet Sergeant (CSGT), Cadet Flight Sergeant (CFSGT) and technically Cadet Warrant Officer (CWOFF) and Cadet Under Officer (CUO).

Any LCDT can apply for the Junior Non-Commissioned Officer Course. A cadet's Commanding Officer (CO) reviews the LCDT's application, and, if successful, endorses their application. This allows the LCDT to attend a promotion course (held during school holidays) conducted by their parent wing. The Junior Non-Commissioned Officer (JNCO) courses generally last for 12–14 days and are always held at a RAAF base, depending on availability. At the end of a promotion course, the course commander grades the LCDT as either recommended or not recommended for promotion to the rank of CCPL. If recommended for promotion, a CO should promote the LCDT to the rank of CCPL as soon as practicable.

Any CCPL can apply for the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Course but must have held that rank for a minimum of five months before being able to attend the promotion course. They go through much the same process, though more rigorous, as do prospective JNCOs. SNCO courses typically last between two and three weeks and are also held at a RAAF base, often concurrently with a JNCO course.

Promotion is as for JNCOs. Having been recommended for promotion by the course commander, promotion is at the discretion of the CCPL's CO as soon as practicable.

After six months as a CSGT, a cadet may be promoted to the rank of CFSGT by their CO. This does not require the CSGT to attend a wing promotion course. Many COs require their prospective CFSGTs to demonstrate the ability to lead a team of SNCOs.

A Cadet Warrant Officer (CWOFF) is the most senior of the NCO ranks but most squadrons consider this to be a "Senior Cadet" due to the privileges and responsibilities it has.

In order to attend a CWOFF course a cadet must be a SNCO and have been an NCO (both CCPL, CSGT and/or CFSGT) for a combined total of 17 months.

The CWOFF course generally lasts for two to four weeks and are conducted at a RAAF base. CWOFF courses conducted by the AAFC primarily cover leadership and supervision particularly focusing on the maintenance of morale, cadet welfare and discipline. Due to the role of a CWOFF often being that of the Squadron Warrant Officer, the course has a significant weighting towards Drill and Ceremonial and service protocol.

Cadets promoted to the rank of CWOFF are addressed as Sir, Ma'am or Warrant Officer. Cadets, staff and defence personnel of a high rank generally will address the CWOFF by their rank and last name e.g. "Warrant Officer Bloggs", whilst subordinate ranks will address the CWOFF as Sir or Ma'am depending on their gender and, are too also allowed to address the CWOFF as "Warrant Officer Bloggs".

Senior Cadet Ranks

The ranks of CWOFF and Cadet Under Officer (CUO) are usually considered to be senior cadet ranks due to large increase of duties and privileges the two ranks have.

In order to attend a CUO course a cadet must be a SNCO and have been an NCO (both a CCPL, CSGT and/or CFSGT) for a combined total of 17 months. CUO courses are the longest and typically run for three to four weeks at a RAAF base.

The rank of CUO is the highest attainable by a cadet and is designed to give the cadet experience in the role of an officer. To this end, the course is heavy in leadership and management related subjects in addition to the drill required to be an officer.

CUOs are addressed by all cadets below their rank as Sir or Ma'am, as applicable, and are saluted.

Rank Establishments

The AAFC has specific rank establishments depending on the strength of a squadron. This is to ensure a balance between leadership roles and subordinates members (especially to prevent a top-heavy squadron developing). As an exaggerated example, it would not be beneficial for a squadron of 40 cadets to have 39 CUOs and 1 CDT, nor would it be beneficial for it to have 20 CWOFFs, 10 CFSGTs and 10 CSGTs. Rather, that squadron ought to have 2 CUOs, 2 CWOFFs, 1 CFSGT, 3 CSGTs, 5 CCPLs and around 30 LCDTs/CDTs. The general standard is 1-4 NCOs and CUOs.

The following table outlines cadet establishments for AAFC squadrons:[3]

Cadet Ranks of the AAFC
10-30 1 2 1 2 4
31-40 2 2 1 3 5
41-50 3 2 2 3 6
51-60 3 2 2 4 7
61-70 4 2 2 5 9
71-80 4 3 3 5 10
81-90 4 3 3 6 11
91-100 5 3 3 7 12
101-110 5 3 4 7 13
111-120 5 4 4 8 14
121-130 5 4 4 9 16
131-140 6 4 5 9 17
141-150 6 4 5 10 18
  • Squadrons may not exceed the establishment for CUO and CWOFF positions. CUO positions do not cascade down to CWOFF positions if there are vacancies in the CUO numbers.
  • Squadrons may use vacancies in CFSGT and CSGT positions to cascade down to lower ranks to permit COs the option to fill vacancies in SNCO ranks with JNCOs.
  • Vacancies in rank cannot cascade upwards at any time.
  • This means that vacant CCPL positions remain that way at all times, and, for example, a squadron with establishment for 75 cadets that has only 3 CSGTs could not assign those positions to CUO/CWOFF/CFSGT rank but could assign them to allow for more CCPLs.

Cadet Phases of Training

A cadet progresses through five phases of training during their cadet career. See Australian Air Force Cadets for a description of each training stage.

Insignia of Training Phases
Phase Insignia
Cadet Recruit No insignia
Basic Re-classification to rank of LCDT
Proficiency Three-bladed propeller
Advanced Four-bladed propeller
Qualified No insignia

Propeller refers to a round gold pins with a propeller-blade symbol printed in service blue, worn centrally of the right breast pocket flap above the button.

Staff Promotion

A person may be enrolled as an Instructor of Cadets (IOC) at the age of 18 and as an Officer of Cadets (OOC) at the age of 20, though most begin their career as an IOC. Ex-cadets are recommended to wait a minimum of one year before returning as a staff member.

Upon appointment as an IOC, the staff member is normally given the rank of AC/ACW(AAFC). Any new staff member who was previously a cadet and held the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer or Cadet Under Officer is eligible for and is usually given the rank of LAC/LACW(AAFC). Ex-ADF members may also be appointed at higher ranks than AC/ACW(AAFC), to recognise their previous rank/service in the ADF. Current ADF members may also be appointed at different ranks, as no member is permitted to have dual mess status (i.e. may only be permitted to eat/sleep in ONE of the Airmens' Mess, Sergeants' Mess or Officers' Mess).

  • An ADF PTE(E)-CPL(E) can only be an AAFC AC(AAFC)-CPL(AAFC)
  • An ADF SGT(E)-WO1(E) can only be an AAFC SGT(AAFC)-WOFF(AAFC)
  • An ADF officer can only be an AAFC officer
  • Since the ranks WOFF(AAFC), SQNLDR(AAFC), WGCDR(AAFC) and GPCAPT(AAFC) are not substantive ranks in the AAFC, senior airmen and senior/air officers may only be given the highest substantive rank of FSGT(AAFC) or FLTLT(AAFC) unless the member also holds a senior airmen/officer appointment.

AAFC staff members who join the ADF may have their rank changed to fit these criteria. This may include reversion in rank (e.g. PLTOFF or FSGT to CPL) or "promotion" (e.g. LAC or SGT to PLTOFF). The promotion to a commissioned officer rank is not automatic - the member is terminated as an instructor, and their application for an officer appointment is assessed. AAFC staff in the ADF do not need to have exactly the same rank in both the ADF and AAFC; their ranks are just required to adhere to the above criteria.

Promotion is less frequent than that of cadets, as there is no age limit on staff. The minimum time in rank requirements between promotions is three years, with the exception of promotion from AC/ACW(AAFC) to LAC/LACW(AAFC), LAC/LACW(AAFC) to CPL(AAFC) or from PLTOFF(AAFC) to FLGOFF(AAFC) in addition to other staff training requirements. The minimum time in rank requirement for AC/ACW(AAFC) to LAC/LACW(AAFC) is one year; from LAC/LACW(AAFC) to CPL(AAFC) is two years; and from PLTOFF(AAFC) to FLGOFF(AAFC) is two years.

See also


  1. Annex A to Part 2, Chapter 2 AAFC Interim Policy Manual
  2. Annex A to Part 2, Chapter 2 AAFC Interim Policy Manual
  3. AAFC Standing Orders Issue 2/2010 (10 Apr)


External links

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