Australian Air Force Cadets

Australian Air Force Cadets
Active 1941 – present
Role Volunteer Youth Organisation
Size Cadets: approx. 7,500
Number of Squadrons: 143[1]
Uniformed Staff: 980
Civilian Staff: 335[2]
Part of Australian Defence Force Cadets
Headquarters National Website
Motto(s) Educate, Challenge, Excites
Director General Cadets – Air Force (DGCADETS-AF) Air Commodore Terry Delahunty, AM
Commander – Australian Air Force Cadets (CDR-AAFC) Group Captain (AAFC) Paul Gregory
Aircraft flown

Glider (sailplane): Schleicher ASK 13, DG-1001, Schleicher ASK-21, L-13 Blanik, Grob G103a Twin II, Grob G103 Twin II Acro, MotorFalke SF-25C, KR-03A Puchatek.

Powered, fixed-wing aircraft: Cessna 152, Cessna 172, Piper PA-38

The Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC), known as the Air Training Corps (AIRTC) until 2001, is a Federal Government funded youth organisation. The parent force of the AAFC is the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Along with the Australian Army Cadets (AAC) and the Australian Navy Cadets (ANC) it is part of the Australian Defence Force Cadets.


The broad aim of the Australian Air Force Cadets is to better equip young people for community life by fostering initiative, leadership, discipline and loyalty through a training program designed to stimulate an interest in the Royal Australian Air Force. The training program is structured to reflect the following objectives:

AAFC activities

Australian Air Force Cadet parade at the memorial outside St John's Ashfield

Cadets receive the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities such as:

Requirements to join

The minimum requirements for a volunteer enrolment in the Australian Air Force Cadets are as follows:

While the age limit for enrolment is 18, cadets can continue their cadet 'career' until the age of 20, when their enrolment is automatically terminated. Terminated cadets are welcome to apply to rejoin the AAFC as either an Instructor of Cadets or Officer of Cadets.

Cadets and staff are not automatically entitled to, or required to serve in the Australian Defence Forces.

Ranks of the AAFC

Cadet Ranks of the AAFC
Rank Slide
Rank Cadet Leading Cadet Cadet Corporal Cadet Sergeant Cadet Flight Sergeant Cadet Warrant Officer Cadet Under Officer
Instructor Ranks of the AAFC (Instructor of Cadets – IOC)[4]
Rank Slide
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):[4]
Rank Slide
Rank Pilot Officer (AAFC) Flying Officer (AAFC) Flight Lieutenant (AAFC) Squadron Leader (AAFC) Wing Commander (AAFC) Group Captain (AAFC)


National Level


The AAFC organisation as a whole falls under the command of Headquarters AAFC (HQAAFC). HQAAFC has no physical location as it is made up of members from around the country. The only person to hold the rank of Group Captain (AAFC) [GPCAPT(AAFC)] is the Commander – Australian Air Force Cadets (CDR-AAFC). The CDR-AAFC reports to the Director General Cadets – Air Force, a member of the RAAF who holds the rank of Air Commodore, who reports to the RAAF chain of command.

Under HQAAFC are the Operational Wings and Directorates, each headed by a Wing Commander [WGCDR(AAFC)] who holds the appointment of Officer Commanding or Director respectively.

The primary positions within HQAAFC are[5]

Position Abbreviation Current Appointment
Commander – Australian Air Force Cadets CDR-AAFC GPCAPT (AAFC) Paul Gregory
Deputy Commander – Australian Air Force Cadets DCDR-AAFC WGCDR (AAFC) Danny Pieri
Director Aviation Operations DAO WGCDR (AAFC) Mark Doward
Director Community & Engagement DCE WGCDR (AAFC) Robert West
Director Corporate Services & Strategy DCSS SQNLDR(AAFC) Peter O'Neill
Director Diversity DDIV Vacant
Director Operations DOPS SQNLDR(AAFC) Colin Palmer
Director Safety DSAF WGCDR(AAFC) Frank Galea OAM
Director Training DT WGCDR (AAFC) Craig Fechner
Warrant Officer – Australian Air Force Cadets WOFF-AAFC WOFF (AAFC) Mark Merrell


Directorates perform a service support function to Operational Wings. As of 01-Jan-2015 there are 7 Directorates under the announced Headquarters AAFC restructure.[5]

Directorate Name Abbreviation Director
Aviation Operations Directorate AOD Director Aviation Operations (DAO) WGCDR (AAFC) Mark Dorward
Community & Engagement Directorate CED Director Community Engagement (DCE) WGCDR (AAFC) Robert West
Corporate Services & Strategy Directorate CSSD Director Corporate Services & Strategy (DCSS) SQNLDR(AAFC) Peter O'Neill
Diversity Directorate DIVD Director Diversity (DDIV) Vacant
Operations Directorate OPSD Director Operations (DOPS) SQNLDR(AAFC) Colin Palmer
Safety Directorate SAFD Director Safety (DSAF) WGCDR(AAFC) Frank Galea OAM
Training Directorate TD Director Training (DT) WGCDR (AAFC) Craig Fechner

Cadets Branch – Air Force (CB-AF)

Position Abbreviation Director
Director General Cadets – Air Force DGCADETS-AF AIRCDRE Terrence Delahunty AM
Deputy Director General Cadets – Air Force DDGCADETS-AF GPCAPT Murray Spittle
Director Cadet Operations DCDTOPS WGCDR Michael Barnsley
Director Cadet Administration DCDTADMIN WGCDR Daryll Topp
Coordination Manager COORDMGR APS Rob West
Director Cadet Facilities & Logistics DFACLOG Vacant
Deputy Director General Safety Operations Airworthiness DDGSOA GPCAPT Tim Sloane
National Air Force Liaison Officer NAFLO SQNLDR Trevor Murphy
National Safety Advisor NSA APS Jeffrey Ballard

Operational Wings

Operational Wing Location Officer Commanding Wing Website
No. 1 Wing Northern Queensland WGCDR (AAFC) Paul De Boom
No. 2 Wing Southern Queensland WGCDR (AAFC) Anthony Lee
No. 3 Wing New South Wales, including the Australian Capital Territory WGCDR (AAFC) Paul Hughes
No. 4 Wing Victoria WGCDR (AAFC) Shaun Young
No. 5 Wing Tasmania WGCDR (AAFC) Raylene Garwood
No. 6 Wing South Australia WGCDR (AAFC) Peter Gill
No. 7 Wing Western Australia WGCDR (AAFC) Robert Caldera
No. 8 Wing Northern Territory WGCDR (AAFC) Gavin Heatherington-Tait

Each Wing contains a number of different squadrons. For more information on specific squadrons see List of Australian Air Force Cadet units and Australian Air Force Cadets – Find a Squadron.

Each year the Royal Australian Air Force awards the "Australian Air Force Cadets – Air Force Trophy". The winner of the Air Force Trophy is honoured with the custodianship of the AAFC National Banner for the following year.

Wing Cadet Reference Group

Command and structure

The AAFC organisation as a whole falls under the command of Headquarters AAFC (HQAAFC). HQAAFC has no physical location as it is made up of members from around the country. The only person to hold the rank of Group Captain (AAFC) is the Commander of the Australian Air Force Cadets (CDR-AAFC). The CDR-AAFC reports to the Director General Cadets – Air Force, a member of the RAAF who holds the rank of Air Commodore, and in turn reports to the RAAF chain of command.

Under HQAAFC are the Operational Wings and Directorates, each headed by a WGCDR(AAFC) who holds the appointment of Officer Commanding (OC) or Director respectively. Cadet squadrons only exist within the Operational Wings. They report to the Operational Wing Officer Commanding (often through an Executive Officer) and are commanded by a Commanding Officer. A squadron Commanding Officer (CO) will hold the rank of PLTOFF(AAFC), FLGOFF(AAFC) or FLTLT(AAFC) unless the officer holds another appointment which entitles them to a more senior rank, some squadrons are commanded by a WOFF(AAFC).

There are 8 Operational Wings for all states and territories, however the state of Queensland is divided into two Wings. There are also eight directorates to serve a support function for operational wings: Aviation Operations Directorate (AOD), Community & Engagement Directorate (CED), Corporate Services & Strategy Directorate (CSSD), Diversity Directorate (DIVD), Operations Directorate (OPSD), Safety Directorate (SAFD), Strategic Development Directorate (SDD), Training Directorate (TD).

As of 1 April 2005, a Squadron's establishment no longer justifies a CO to hold the rank of SQNLDR(AAFC) rank. However, it is still possible to have a CO of SQNLDR(AAFC) or even WGCDR(AAFC) rank, but only if that CO holds a wing or national position e.g. Officer Commanding, Director, Staff Officer or Deputy Director position in Wing or National HQ in addition to their appointment as a Squadron CO.

There are a number of key appointments within Wing Headquarters, including;

Appointment Abbreviation Rank
Executive Officer* XO SQNLDR (AAFC)
*Some wings have a regional appointment with the region appended to the title. e.g. Executive Officer (South) (XOS).
Staff Officer Training* SOT SQNLDR (AAFC)
*Some wings have specific appointments with the speciality appended to the title. e.g. Staff Officer Ground Training (Squadron) (SOGT(SQN)).
Staff Officer Management Services SOMS SQNLDR (AAFC)
Senior Aviation Officer SAO FLTLT (AAFC) – SQNLDR (AAFC)
Wing Warrant Officer WGWOFF WOFF (AAFC)
*Some wings have a regional appointment with the region appended to the title. e.g. Wing Warrant Officer (South) (WGWOFF(S)).
Regional Executive Instructor* RXI CPL (AAFC) – FSGT (AAFC)
*Some wings have regional appointments with the region appended to the title e.g. Regional Executive Instructor (West) (RXIW).
Chairman Wing Cadet Reference Group CWCRG CSGT – CUO

There are also a large number of other positions such as Administration Officer, Psychologist, Chaplain and various other training and administrative appointments. Larger Wings generally have more executive and other appointments e.g. No. 3 Wing (AAFC) has 3 additional Executive Officers, 3 additional Wing Warrant Officers (North, South and West) and 4 Regional Cadet Reference Group Representatives.

Each Wing has an Air Force Liaison Officer (AFLO), a RAAF officer (often a reservist) who is responsible for all activities requiring RAAF support for that region, amongst other duties.

Airmen/women and junior officers are posted to an individual squadron (as per a squadron's size) as instructors of cadets (IOC) and officers of cadets (OOC).

The AAFC incorporates a National Cadet Reference Group, comprising eight Wing Chairs under the direction and leadership of a Chairman of the NCRG and Deputy Chairman of the NCRG. This is the peak representative and advisory body acting on behalf of the cadets to the higher echelons of the organisation. The chairman is a default member of several groups through virtue of their appointment including the tri-service Cadet Consultative Forum, the AAFC Executive Council and the National Council among others.

AAFC Home Training

There are five stages of AAFC Home Training, each Training Stage has a number of subjects.

Cadet Recruit stage

This training stage is designed to give cadets fundamental knowledge required to participate in AAFC Home Parades and Activities. The course is should take between two and six months and should include at least one weekend of training. At the end of the course a cadet will be able to:

Subjects in Cadet Recruit Stage are:[8]

Basic stage

This training stage is designed to take a cadet with fundamental knowledge and build on this to the point where the cadet is proficient at most basic activities. The successful completion of Basic Stage should see the cadet with the knowledge and skills required where they are able to take on more significant activities within the AAFC such as promotional courses, firearms training, weapons training and other activities that require a good understanding of the way the AAFC conducts training.[7]

Subjects in Basic Stage are:[9]

Proficiency Stage

This training stage is designed to be completed one year. Its aim is to refine the cadets’ knowledge and skills to the stage where they can contribute successfully to their squadron and are fully prepared to undertake more specific training such as promotion courses. Proficiency Stage comprises three compulsory core subjects (AVP, DCP, FCP) and three elective subjects. Those elective subjects must include at least one of ARP or SVP.[7]

Subjects in Proficiency Stage are:[10]

Advanced Stage

This stage of training is designed to provide cadets with extensive knowledge about the RAAF and the AAFC. It is designed to be less intensive and to allow instruction over two years (or more, if the squadron requires) so that CNCOs and other cadets in Advanced stage are able to contribute to the SQN in other ways. Advanced Stage comprises three compulsory core subjects (DCA, AVA and SKA) plus three other subjects. Those elective subjects must include at least one of ARA or SVA.[7]

Subjects in Advanced Stage are:[11]

Qualified Stage

To complete Qualified Stage cadets are to complete a mix of Projects and Elective subjects. The mix of electives and projects may be:

Qualified Stage cadets who have Squadron duties such as instructing, administration, or supervising junior cadets may have these duties recognised in lieu of elective subjects in the form of a generic subject labelled Squadron Management Elective (SME1, SME2, SME3).[7]

Projects are substantial multi-media presentations that may be individual or team efforts. Projects should be relevant to ADF or AAFC themes. Examples of projects are:[12]



Drill and Ceremonial

AAFC training constitutes much Drill and Ceremonial training, ranging from basic static drill in recruit phase to advanced banner, Rifle and sword drill on officer courses. Each parade night a "squadron daily parade" is held (daily for RAAF SQNs, weekly for AAFC SQNs) in which all cadets participate, with CNCOs and above assuming executive position of Flight Sergeant (CCPL), Flight Commander (CSGT/CFSGT), Parade Warrant Officer (CWOFF), Parade Commander (CUO) and often Reviewing Officer (CUO). Lower ranks may hold these positions where there are insufficient senior cadets. Squadrons also hold CO's Parades (usually once a month but not always) where staff go on parade and the squadron is inspected by the Commanding Officer.

AAFC squadrons often form guards and banner parties at Anzac/Remembrance/Victory in the Pacific Day services and other cadets will march on these parades. Promotion course graduation parades are very significant events, often requiring days of training. These parades will often be reviewed by a senior RAAF officer and consist of a number of squadrons/flights as well as colour parties. Graduation parades will generally be armed (SNCO candidates and above only in some cases) with F88 Austeyrs, the Standard Individual Weapon of the Australian Defence Force (often issued the F88I submodel – meaning innocuous) and swords for executives. Colour party members are often temporarily issued ceremonial equipment such as White cotton gloves, Banner Girdle (for Banner/Colour Bearer) or Sash (Banner/Colour Warrant Officer) and white belts.

Drill and Ceremonial – Home Training

Drill and Ceremonial – Promotional Training

Major Activities

National Competitions

HQAAFC holds three National Competitions throughout the year, they are:

International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE)


The International air Cadet Exchange (IACE) Program came into being in 1947 when Canada and the UK arranged a bi-lateral exchange of air cadets between the two countries.

Over the next few years the scheme was adopted by the USA and several European countries. It now has a membership of some 20 nations around the world including, in this region, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. The mandate of the association is to encourage international understanding, co-operation and goodwill between young people from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, with a central theme of aviation.

This exchange, involving several hundred participants, takes place over 2–3 weeks in July/August each year. Many long-term friendships have been made during IACE visits which are often described as the highlight of a cadet's career.

The AAFC currently exchanges with the following countries:


Each year up to 35 cadets and staff (escorts) are selected to represent the AAFC on various overseas visits. The people chosen act as ambassadors for Australia and the AAFC.

Once exchange members are met at the designated entry city, they are the guests of the host organisation which will provide all accommodation, food and travel during the course of the program. The itinerary will give visitors the experience of places and cultural events not usually available to ordinary tourists (such as visits to military facilities).


Australia hosts a reciprocal visit each year from the air cadet organisations the AAFC visits. HQAAFC organises the event and, in addition to the visitors, a cadet from each of the other Wings is selected to attend. These tours are great fun with visits to such places as Canberra (including the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Australian War Memorial), Australia Zoo, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Blue Mountains, Sydney Harbour, and local defence bases (which often include the opportunity to fly in Service Aircraft).


Australia's only memorial to Australian Air Force Cadets occupies a prominent position on the grounds of St John's Ashfield, and a memorial service attended by the Cadets has been held annually since it was opened by the State Governor Lieutenant General John Northcott in 1946.[20] It was built by Squadron Leader Arthur Whitehurst who had commanded a squadron at Ashfield during the period 1941–1946, and whose son Douglas Arthur Whitehurst had died in action[21] in World War II.[22]

See also


  1. CadetOne Report Retrieved: 2015-01-05 22:20
  2. AAFC Organisational Chart; Version 01/10, August 2010
  3. PH299 Cadet Record of Service, commonly called the 'PH299 Blue Book'
  4. 1 2 Volume 2, Part 1, Chapter 1 of the AAFC Manual of Management
  5. 1 2 Headquarters AAFC Routine Instruction 12-2014
  6. "Direction and Role of the Cadet Reference Group (CDR ADMIN 2/2010)
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Part 2, Chapter 1; Manual of Ground Training
  8. 1 2 Part 2, Chapter 2; Manual of Ground Training
  9. 1 2 Part 2, Chapter 3; Manual of Ground Training
  10. 1 2 Part 2, Chapter 4; Manual of Ground Training
  11. 1 2 Part 2, Chapter 5; Manual of Ground Training
  12. Part 2, Chapter 6; Manual of Ground Training
  13. 1 2 Part 2, Chapter 7; Manual of Ground Training
  14. Part 4, Chapter 3; Manual of Ground Training
  15. Part 4, Chapter 4; Manual of Ground Training
  16. Part 4, Chapter 5; Manual of Ground Training
  17. Part 4, Chapter 6; Manual of Ground Training
  18. Australian Air Force Cadets – International Air Cadet Exchange
  19. International Air Cadet Exchange Association
  20. "Memorials to War Dead – Duke Opens Park". The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 October 1946. p. 4. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  21. "Family Notices – On Active Service". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 May 1946. p. 16. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  22. "Ashfield Church Parade". Australian Air Force Cadets bulletin board. Retrieved 2010-09-14.


External links

External images
ANZAC Day 2008
ANZAC Day 2008
AAFC National Badge
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