Royal Australian Air Force

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is the principal aerial warfare force of Australia, a part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army. Constitutionally, the Governor-General of Australia, is the de jure Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force. The Royal Australian Air Force is commanded by the Chief of Air Force (CAF), who is subordinate to the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF). The CAF is also directly responsible to the Minister of Defence, with the Department of Defence administering the ADF and the Air Force.[3]

Royal Australian Air Force
Founded31 March 1921; 100 years ago (1921-03-31)[1]
Country Australia
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size14,313 Active personnel
5,499 Reserve personnel
309 Aircraft
Part ofAustralian Defence Force
HeadquartersRussell Offices, Canberra
Motto(s)Latin: Per Ardua ad Astra
"Through Adversity to the Stars"
MarchRoyal Australian Air Force March Past (Eagles of Australia)
AnniversariesRAAF Anniversary Commemoration – 31 March
Commander-in-ChiefGovernor-General David Hurley as representative of Elizabeth II as Queen of Australia[2]
Chief of the Air ForceAir Marshal Mel Hupfeld
Deputy Chief of the Air ForceAir Vice Marshal Stephen Meredith
Air Commander AustraliaAir Vice Marshal Joe Iervasi
Warrant Officer of the Air ForceWarrant Officer Fiona Grasby
Aircraft flown
EA-18G Growler, E-7A Wedgetail
FighterF/A-18A/B Hornet, F/A-18F Super Hornet, F-35A Lightning II
PatrolAP-3C Orion, P-8A Poseidon
TrainerPC-21, Hawk 127, KA350
TransportC-130J Hercules, C-17A Globemaster III, 737 BBJ, Falcon 7X, KC-30A MRTT, C-27J Spartan

The organisation was formed in March 1921, as the Australian Air Force, through the separation of the Australian Air Corps from the Army, which in turn amalgamated the separate aerial services of both the Army and Navy. It directly continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC), formed on 22 October 1912.[4]

It operates the majority of the ADF's fixed wing aircraft, although both the Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy also operate aircraft in various roles.[5][6] The RAAF provides support across a spectrum of operations such as air superiority, precision strikes, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, air mobility, space surveillance, and humanitarian support. The RAAF has 259 aircraft, of which 110 are combat aircraft.

The RAAF took part in many of the 20th century's major conflicts. During the early years of the Second World War a number of RAAF bomber, fighter, reconnaissance and other squadrons served in Britain, and with the Desert Air Force located in North Africa and the Mediterranean. From 1942, many RAAF units were formed in Australia, and fought in South West Pacific Area. Thousands of Australians also served with other Commonwealth air forces in Europe, including during the bomber offensive against Germany.[7] By the time the war ended, a total of 216,900 men and women served in the RAAF, of whom 10,562 were killed in action.[8] Later the RAAF served in the Berlin Airlift, Korean War, Malayan Emergency, Indonesia–Malaysia Confrontation and Vietnam War. More recently, the RAAF has participated in operations in East Timor, the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan, and the military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).