Amateur radio in the cadet forces

Hello all,

The RSGB Youth Committee is interested to know about how you are involved with amateur radio through the ACO, how we can assist you in teaching/examining etc of the subject and how we might encourage more cadets to become radio amateurs.

Feedback is welcome either as a reply to this thread, or emailed to myself at “me [@]_ milonoblet [.] co [.] uk” (include “RSGB YC” in the subject line).

In addition, to all radio officers: if your already-qualified cadets are not aware that membership of the RSGB is free to those under 25 and in full-time education and of the benefits it brings, please let them know.

Youth members of the RSGB are eligible to apply on an RSGB sponsored Youngsters On The Air trip to either Italy (18-25 July) or the Brecon Beacons DXpedition (23-30 July), but applications must be in by Sunday 1st March. More information is available at There are four spaces available for the Italy trip and ten spaces available for the Wales trip and few applications have been received so far, so you’re in with a very good chance of getting a place if you apply.

Many thanks,

Milo Noblet 2E0ILO,
RSGB Youth Committee

Hi All.
May I take the liberty of pointing out that the RSGB is not the only route to obtaining the amateur foundation license, this route is fine for cadets who have money to burn. The Air Cadet foundation license exam is free for air cadets and members of the other cadet forces, details are in ACP46 and courses are run up and down the country.
I do take exception to a representative of an outside organization using this site to sponsor another club or be it a commercial organization his intentions may be honorable but it is not the correct way to go about things.
Amateur radio is a totally separate activity from air cadet radio and should be considered as an outside activity and not an alternative to air cadet radio.
Regards an RSGB member


Many thanks for your response. It was not my intention to promote the standard Foundation Exam in Radiocommunications (which is the responsibility of Ofcom & the Radiocommunications Foundation) over the ACO Foundation Course at all - both lead to the same result, and if cadets have the opportunity to save £27.50 by taking the examination via the ACO course then this is naturally what they should do.
As the national body for amateur radio, the RSGB is there to support and assist amateurs regardless of how they came to hold their licence, and as mentioned earlier, membership is free for those under 25 and in full-time education - though this is not well known, hence my post.

Indeed amateur radio and air cadet/military radio are separate activites, but there is no reason why they cannot be learned together as part of a progressive system - in fact, the Foundation licence does count towards the ACO Communicator badge, and members of the ACO who have achieved this badge can obtain a foundation licence completely free of charge via the link on the RSGB website.

Milo Noblet 2E0ILO,
RSGB Youth Committee
(also a cadet, albeit not of the airborne variety)

I will argue that there is foundation amateur licence module option to complete the ACO Comms badge so amateur radio is NOT totally separate, nor considered an outside activity.

of the 6 modules (from a choice of 11) one can be foundation amateur licence, so although not part of the syllabus, or a mandatory requirement there are Wings, Squadrons and individuals who chose to go down that route to get their 6 modules…

On a similar note, is it not also the case that the QAIC syllabus requires candidates to possess (or to obtain during the course) a Foundation Amateur Radio Licence? Unless this requirement has now been changed or withdrawn?

I do share some of the concerns raised by dave.aco2 in respect of any circumstances where it looks to be the case that amateur radio is being supported to the extent that air cadet radio suffers.

Whilst both areas of specialism have similarities and differences between each-other in ways that resonate with the overlaps between, say, Corps flying and gliding, versus civilian NPPL/BGA training; and Corps rifle shooting versus NRA and civilian club shooting: I’m unsure of the exact RSGB-related point being made that “this route is fine for Cadets who have money to burn”.

In my (previous, but relevant) experience, the added costs for Cadets to obtain the complementary qualification (and skills) have been literally nil. Has this not been the case elsewhere?

However, there is another aspect to the original post that is much-more important, and which genuinely concerns me. Whilst I do support the spirit and intent behind the need to protect Air Cadet Radio from ever being totally-eclipsed by amateur radio, the statement I do take exception to a representative of an outside organization using this site to sponsor another club or be it a commercial organization needs to be balanced by two key facts;

  • this ACC we bsite is an independent public service run on an unofficial basis in support of the Air Cadet community at home and overseas (and it’s content is therefore unregulated, as long as compliant with the basic rules)

  • the Radio Society of Great Britain has been hugely-supportive of the Air Cadet Organisation for a long time, specifically and most notably by constantly publishing small news items and photographs of Air Cadets involved on amateur/service radio events almost every month in RadCom, the official (and influential) technology magazine of the RSGB.

Are these not valid comments in response?


I did QAIC in 2011-12 and there was no requirement for a foundation license. May well have changed since.

the local Amateur foundation licence opportunity run in our Wing (set up and overseen by a Sqn with close links to their local Amateur club for the benefit of ticking the box for Comms badge) does has a small cost involved which is admin based typically for registration for the exams/youth membership to the club and cost of the exam. i am unsure what the cost is but certain it is sub-£20

Hi all.
Just a comment on cost of external foundation exam is currently £27.50 per candidate plus any additional charge a club may wish to apply for administration and hire of hall etc.

The cost comment was inserted as I have heard of far higher charges being imposed. The cadet exam is free for cadets.

For those of us that teach foundation within the corp’s and hold amateur licences we must hold to a firm dividing line between the two activities otherwise we will be using all the wrong pro words when teaching basic cadets and forget the existance of ACP44.

Regards Dave

Totally agree. Military and Civil radio uses are very different with the military having a much higher quality (IMHO) set of procedures and standard of training. As a Royal Signals trained Sqn Radio Officer who holds a full ‘A’ amateur licence from when Morse Code was still mandatory - some say it still should be on HF and MF - I keep the two completely separate. We are the ACO and operating on MoD frequencies with their permission, not a group of people calling a mate on the other side of the world to ask about the weather…

Quite why the RSGB are on this forum touting for business is also questionable?

Sir - this post was not an attempt to ‘tout for business’, but merely an offer of assistance with any amateur radio training or activities that squadrons are doing, and a request for feedback on how the RSGB might help you further.

Why should the cadets pay for something we offer for free, a lot of hard work and perseverance on the Part of a few of our Radio officers has paid off with the result being that the RSGB themselves recognise the ACO amateur radio training…

They shouldn’t - the Air Cadet Foundation Course is endorsed by the RCF and so if cadets have this available to them then they clearly would be wise to save the £27.50 examination fee (which is payable to the RCF rather than the RSGB just to cover administrative and marking costs). Membership of the RSGB is completely free to those under 21 or under 25 if in full time education and brings many benefits including eligibility for free, sponsored trips such as those listed in the original post.

I actually see the “touting for business” as having happened a long, long time ago.

The HF part (mostly) of the comms syllabus and the nature of this organisation has always lent itself to drawing in radio enthusiasts and those are typically pursuing this hobby as part of the ham radio world.

As those people have taken a role in ACO comms they’ve brought with them the baggage and the perspective of a hamster and that has driven us to the position where we seem to be stuck in the past and where we have built amateur radio into our syllabus. Some such individuals I have had to work with in the past have no comprehension whatsoever of the “tactical” radio world.

I did QAIC in 2011-12 and there was no requirement for a foundation license. May well have changed since.[/quote]

I can’t see why it would be a requirement. Amateur radio has nothing to do with aerospace.

However there is a radio section on the course. . . I forget the details though.

Milonoblet has actually removed part of the posts which definitely contravene our no advertising. I let the rest remain as a link to an organisation which might help/encourage radio work.

In order to do this properly it is another cost to squadrons, storing the thing, maybe (not looked into it) needing permission to put up an aerial and then the trickiest part finding someone with the latent interest to actually run it all and keeping them or having someone similar ‘on tap’ if they left. As a Sqn Cdr can I with all the other pressures be bothered to go into this for such a niche subject area? If someone came along saying I’ll use my gear and do this, then I’d be quite happy to pursue it.
When I was a cadet we had a member of staff who was a ham and when he left none of us cadets were interested (those nights were the least interesting unless he got chatting to people well outside the UK) and neither were the other staff, as result the radio which was a big old beast sat there gathering dust for about 5 years.

I feel that you are being a bit unrealistic here
I am a retired communications engineer and fully aware of how our armed services communicate and unfortunately not at all as good as it could be, i remind you that your frequencies are limited and channelized, amateur radio is wide spectrum and a very informative and supportive hobby.
Just remember that amount of times amateurs have been the only form of communication available during major disasters.

However on the amateur radio aspect, all we are offering is a wealth of information and electronic knowledge and we are always willing to pass whatever is asked on to youngsters.We are not interfering with your systems and the two are totally different in use.
We did a course to the ATC a few years ago and had 14 out of 15 students pass, we did not charge for the 12 days of tuition, theory and practical hands on , however our club money and efforts was wasted as the ATC officers did not take things further and did not even use these Foundation certificates to enhance the application for a comms badge.
Not even a thank you to our club but we still continue and at present are setting up a course for Army Cadets.

Four years later…?