Rank Structure of the RAF Air Cadets

The ranks of the RAF Air Cadets for both staff and Cadets mirror those of the Royal Air Force, some holding an equivalent substantive rank. All of the below rank slides are worn on the shoulder epaulettes of the routine blue uniform, the front epaulette of field clothing and will appear on the sleeves on dress uniforms.

Cadet Rank Structure

All Cadet members of the Air Training Corps hold the “rank” of Cadet, depicted here as a blank rank slide, although no rank identifier is worn. The term “Cadet” is often generally used to refer to all Cadets regardless of specific Cadet rank. Cadets who show leadership ability and commitment to the Squadron can be promoted through the four Cadet ranks shown here.

During normal conversation the term “Cadet” is omitted from the rank other than for Cadet Warrant Officer.
The rank of Corporal is a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer (JNCO) and Sergeant and above are Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCO).
All Cadet NCOs are addressed by their rank.

When a Cadet turns 18 they wear a rank slide with the text “STAFF CADET” to signify that they are a legal adult and have completed the appropriate safeguarding courses, it is possible to remain at the rank of Cadet past 18 and becoming a Staff Cadet is not considered a promotion.
To become a Cadet Warrant Officer you must be 18 years old and pass a promotion process at wing level.

Staff Rank Structure

Within the ranks of the Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) there are several subgroups. Uniformed staff all wear rank slides with the text “RAF AIR CADETS” to differentiate themselves from the Cadet ranks and those of the regular Royal Air Force.

Civilian Instructors (CIs)

Civilian instructors do not hold a specific “rank” as identified by the military aspect of the organisation, however they are addressed as Sir or Ma’am. Civilian instructors can be most easily identified in their “uniform” of RAF Air Cadet branded polo-shirt and sweatshirts.
Civilian Instructors can also choose to wear the Civilian Instructor identifier pin or armband as their insignia.

CI Lapel Pin
CI Armband

Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs)

CFAV NCO ranks begin at Sergeant and are all therefore SNCOs. They are addressed by their rank, other than Warrant Officers who are addressed as Sir or Ma’am.

The white bar on the Sergeant rank slide indicates that they are probationary and have not yet passed the mandatory courses.

Commissioned Officers

Commissioned officers in the RAF Air Cadets hold a Cadet Forces Commission (CFC) and as such are addressed as Sir or Ma’am and entitled to be saluted by Cadets, SNCOs and other non-commissioned personnel across all regular, reserve and Cadets services.

Ranks up to Flight Lieutenant are classed a junior officers and are normally found on Squadrons, Squadron Leader and above are senior officers, usually found at wing level and above and are to be saluted and addressed in the manner above by junior officers and non-commissioned personnel.

The white band for Pilot Officer indicates that they are probationary and have not yet passed the mandatory courses.
Officer rank slide backing colours will change to match the garment they are wearing and will not always be blue.

Additional Ranks

Additional ranks that exist within the RAF Air Cadets, above those attainable by a CFAV, are held by permanent staff who are in Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) roles and may hold a reserve or regular commission or honorary appointment with the RAF Air Cadets. These ranks are found at Regional and Corps level.
The rank of Air Commodore and above are known as Air Officers.

Honorary Group Captains wear the “RAF AIR CADETS” rank slides.
As Group Captain and Air Commodore do not need to display any text they are not normally worn on backing material.