Royal Australian Air Force

Operator Profile

Key Facts

Current Title:
Royal Australian Air Force
English Title:
Royal Australian Air Force
First Established:
ICAO Code:


Narrative Summary

Unlike the Australian Flying Corps that served during WW1 and was a branch of the Army, the Royal Australian Air Force was established in 1921 as an independent air arm modelled on the Royal Air Force in Britain.

Key Dates

1920 Australian Flying Corps disbanded.
1920 Australian Air Corps (AAC) established.
31 March 1921 AAC renamed the Australian Air Force.
31 August 1921 Royal prefix added – Royal Australian Air Force.
1939-1945 RAAF units serve in Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as the Pacific during WW2.
1950-1953 RAAF units participate in the Korean War.
1964-1972 RAAF units particpate in the Vietnam War.
1999 Peacekeeping operations in East Timor begin.
2003 RAAF units participate in the Second Gulf War/Iraq War.
2010 RAAF detachment begins operating UAVs in Afghanistan.
2014 RAAF units join the coalition to combat extremist forces in northern Iraq.

Current Status

All RAAF aircraft and helicopters are currently active.

Future Plans

Take delivery of 14 Lockheed Martin F-35s.


National Insignia

RAAF aircraft oringinally used the same national insignia as the Royal Air Force of the British Empire – i.e. a red/white/blue roundel in the normal six positions. In June 1942 it was decided to paint out the centre red disk from the roundel to avoid any possible confusion with the Japanese national insignia. This resulted in a white disk with a thick blue outline. For aircraft supplied by the USA, a quick conversion of the national insignia was to replace the central star marking with the white/blue roundel and leave the side bars unchanged.

In late 1945 the roundel reverted back to the RAF pattern. In 1947 the central red disk of the fuselage roundel was replaced by a red kangaroo – the wing roundels were unchanged. From September 1956 the kangaroo marking was adopted for all roundel positions. In the 1980s a low-visibility black or grey version was introduced.

A red/white/blue fin flash has been carried on the fin or rudder from the creation of the RAAF, but was replaced by a white/blue fin flash in the period 1942-1945. The service titles ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE are carried on the fuselage sides of transport aircraft.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Aircraft operating with the RAAF carry serials with a prefix identifying the basic aircraft followed by an individual aircraft number, e.g. Hawk A27-28.
The prefix numbers have been issued in three different series:

First Series (1921-1934)
The first series ran A1 to A12, but A5 was allocated twice, due to the Vickers Vimy not being delivered.

Second Series (1935-1960)
The second series ran A1 to A100. Some aircraft types delivered from the UK retained their RAF serials in RAAF use.

Third Series (1961-Present)
The third series currently runs A1 to A69. The 24 F-4E leased by the RAAF in the early 1970s retained their USAF serials, but were allocated the RAAF designator A69 for administrative purposes. Some prefixes have not been used to avoid confict with RAN ‘N’ prefixes.

Unit/Base Codes

A Royal Air Force-style unit coding system was used 1939-1945. Details to be added.


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List

All-Time Table of Aircraft Used

Aircraft NOT Used

To be added.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

To be added.


Main Headquarters

Air Force Headquarters, Russell Offices, Canberra, ACT.

Organisational Structure

The RAAF flying units come under Air Command, which made up of 4 Groups – Surveillance & Response Groups, Air Combat Group, Air Mobility Group and Air Training Group. Each Group is sub-divided into 2 or 3 Wings of 1-4 Squadrons each.

Current Order of Battle

Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle

List of Historical Orders of Battle – to be added.

All-Time Flying Units List

Units Listing

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

See current order of battle.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

To be added.

Aircraft-Carrying Ships

The Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm was not formed until 1947, so before that time shipboard aircraft were owned by the RAAF. A list of ships RAAF aircraft operated from will be added.

More Information


None known.


To be added


wikipedia: Royal Australian Air Force
Official website
Facebook: Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force Association
Australian War Memorial: RAAF

Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.


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