Internal Briefing Note Serial No: 16/20
Source: Head of the Flying Branch
Date: 7 Apr 20
Released by: Air M&C
RATIONALISATION OF ROYAL AIR FORCE FLYING BADGES UNDER ASTRA
Her Majesty The Queen has graciously approved changes to various flying badges in order to rationalise them under ASTRA for the Next Generation Royal Air Force in its 2nd Century.
This IBN serves as a formal record of the policy changes as at 1 Apr 20 prior to publication in Service documentation.
All Regular, Reserve and Royal Air Force Air Cadet (RAFAC) personnel.
• The sub-specialisations of Weapon Systems Officers (WSOs) and Weapon Systems Operators (WSOps) shall be known as Mission Aircrew; and Ground Branch and Trade personnel on airborne duties shall be known as Airborne Specialists.
• A new Airborne Specialist Flying Badge is being introduced to rationalise Fighter Controllers (FC), Airborne Technicians (AT), Airborne Image Analysts (IA) and Reaper/Protector Mission Intelligence Coordinators (MICs) under a single badge. Airborne Specialists will be accorded the same Honorary Aircrew status as Parachute Jump Instructors in the next revision of Queen’s Regulations.
• For RAFAC Pilots, the Glider Pilot and Qualified Glider Pilot Flying Badges have been rationalised into a single Reserve Pilot (Glider) Flying Badge. Non-Service Pilots qualified to fly RAFAC Air Experience Flights will be eligible to wear the Reserve Pilot (Air Experience) Flying Badge.
• Inconsistencies with the current WSO/WSOp Flying Badge for Mission Aircrew have been corrected.
• Entitlement to award the current legacy flying badges ceases on 1 Apr 21. In the interim, entitled personnel may purchase, at personal expense, the new badges for wear on FACS and PCS from 1 Apr 20 (see Annexes A and B). The new badges for No 1, No 2 and No 5 Dress should be in stock
by 1 Apr 21, and qualified MICs (including previous qualified) are awarded entitlement from 1 Apr 20 to wear personal expense items. Defence Clothing will no longer stock legacy flying badges and personnel are positively encouraged to adopt and wear the new ones under ASTRA as part of the
Next Generation Royal Air Force.
The Pilot Flying Badge was the first ever badge of its kind and has largely remained unchanged since His Majesty King George V authorised its first use in 1912 for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) – to be known as the “1912 pattern”. The Observer Flying Badge, introduced in 1915, was a single-wing design that was eventually replaced by iterations of the Air Gunner Flying Badge in 1939 – to be known as the “1939 pattern”. The WSO/WSOp Flying Badge, introduced in 20031 , made an extra embellishment to this pattern
with the addition of a Sovereign’s Crown.
On 13 Sep 19, Her Majesty The Queen most graciously approved the rationalisation of the RAF flying badges to feature just 7 designs in order to simplify the stock system, modernise the terms used and to correct some inconsistencies. The designs of the new badges are at Annex A and the evolution of the various Flying Badges is recorded at Annex C and D as a matter of formal record. The 7 RAF flying badges rationalised wef 1 Apr 20 at Annex A are detailed as follows:
Pilot Flying Badge (NSN: 8455-99-127-1462). Based upon the original 1912 pattern badge but with the letters ‘RAF’ since 1918 and a Sovereign’s Crown. The Pilot Flying Badge, since 1 Apr 2019, is worn by all pilots of the FJ, ISR, ME, RPAS and RW specialisations. There are no changes to this badge.
WSO/WSOp Flying Badge (NSN: 8455-99-821-4018). Based on the 1939 pattern badge but embellished with the letters ‘RAF’ and a Sovereign’s Crown. After the recommendations of the 2001 Rear Crew Paper and the 2003 Airman Aircrew Study, the WSO/WSOp Flying Badge replaced all previous RAF non-pilot flying badges of the Flying Branch and Non-Commissioned Aircrew (NCA) cadres. Personnel that qualified for the legacy Flying Badges prior to 1 Apr 03 are entitled to continue to wear them but may elect to change to the WSO/WSOp Flying Badge. The sealed-pattern of the WSO/WSOp Flying Badge agreed in 2000 contained several errors (including an incorrect 11 trailing-edge feathers and too steep a wing) which will be corrected by new stock from 1 Apr 21 to the design at Annex A. Personnel purchasing, through personal expense, RAF flying badges from 1 Apr 2020 for FACS and PCS shall ensure they comply with the new pattern designs at Annexes A and B. Defence Clothing no longer stock legacy flying badges and personnel are positively encouraged to adopt and wear the new ones under ASTRA for the Next Generation RAF.
Airborne Specialist Flying Badge (NSN: TBD). Based upon the 1939 pattern badge but embellished with the letters ‘RAF’. The Airborne Specialist Flying Badge will replace the Fighter Controller (FC), Airborne Technician (AT) and Airborne Image Analyst (IA) Flying Badges from 1 Apr 21 when badges are expected to be in stock. Intelligence Officers and TG11 Personnel who are, or have previously, qualified for MIC duties operating the Reaper or Protector RPAS will also be entitled to wear the badge on successful completion of the 54 Sqn OCU. Entitlement to wear legacy flying badges awarded prior to 1 Apr 21 in lieu of these new ones will remain. In the interim, entitled personnel may, at personal expense, purchase and wear the new style badges for FACS and PCS from 1 Apr 20 if they comply with the new pattern designs at Annex A. The Airborne Specialist Flying Badge for No 1 and No 2 Service Dress is unlikely to be in stock until 1 Apr 21. Defence Clothing will no longer stock legacy flying badges and personnel are positively encouraged to adopt and wear the new ones under ASTRA.
Parachute Jump Instructor Flying Badge (NSN: 8455-99-127-1400). Based upon the 1939 pattern badge but embellished with a parachute in the centre. There are no changes to this badge.
Reserve Pilot (Gliding) Flying Badge (NSN: TBD). Based upon the 1912 pattern badge but embellished with the letter ‘G’ and with blue laurel-wreaths. The Reserve Pilot (Gliding) Flying Badge will replace the current Glider Pilot and Qualified Gliding Instructor Flying Badges on 1 Apr 21. These legacy badges were originally based around the Army 2nd Class Glider Pilot Flying Badge design and personnel that qualified for the legacy flying badges prior to 1 Apr 21 can continue to wear them. Alternatively, they may elect to
change to the new Reserve Pilot (Gliding) Flying Badge from 1 Apr 20 at personal expense for FACS. The design of the new Reserve Pilot (Gliding) Flying Badge is at Annex A.
Reserve Pilot (Air Experience) Flying Badge (NSN: 8455-99-132-1513). Based upon the 1912 pattern badge but with light-blue wings and embellished with the letters ‘VR’. The Reserve Pilot (Air Experience)
badge is already in stock as it was previously used once in 1993. The badge is intended to be worn by non-Service Pilots who qualify to fly RAFAC Air Experience Flights. There are no changes to this badge.
Preliminary Flying Badge (Pilot) (NSN: 8455-99-127-1422). First introduced on 8 Sep 49 for the RAFVR and Auxiliary Air Force, this badge is still awarded to Pilots of the University Air Sqns (UAS) only. It is no longer worn outside of UAS service. There are no changes to this badge.
In 2003, the WSO/WSOp Flying Badge replaced the Navigator (N), Air Engineer (E), Air Signaller (S), Air Electronics
Officer/Operator (AE) and Air Loadmaster (LM) Flying Badges.
Honorary Aircrew Status. In 1945 Parachute Jump Instructors were conferred ‘Honorary Aircrew’ status within King’s Regulations. The same is true for today’s Queen’s Regulations and a future revision will confer ‘Honorary Aircrew’ status to the Airborne Specialists in Regular and Reserve front line service. It should be noted that ‘Honorary Aircrew’ status does not affect the basic conditions of service for their Branch or Trade but just recognises that they are operating the aircraft as part of the crew rather than in a passenger capacity. Use of the term ‘Flying Badge’. With acknowledgement to the work of the RAF Historical Society, it appears that sometimes the word ‘Brevet’ has been incorrectly used. Ever since the 1912 report on Aerial Navigation, and a subsequent King’s Order, the correct term has been ‘Flying Badge’ and not the incorrect term ‘Brevet’. The word ‘brevet’ is, in fact, French and means a ‘diploma’ or ‘certificate’. It is thought that the error crept in through the years via the confusion when aircrew were presented with a brevet (a certificate) at the same time as a flying badge. All documentation with erroneous use of the word ‘Brevet’ shall be corrected forthwith.
Badge Manufacture at Personal Expense. Personnel paying for badge manufacturers to produce RAF Flying Badges at personal expense shall ensure that they meet the design specifications set out at Annex B. These badges have been subject to Royal Approval and so no changes to their shape or embellishment of their design are to be made. Colours should be preserved in their manufacture unless a single-colour ‘tone-down’ badge is required for tactical purposes. The Fg B&TAs will notify the normal badge
manufacturers and personnel should ensure that their badges meet the designs at Annexes A and B.
Those that do not meet the approved design and specification may be asked to be removed by the relevant chain of command.
ROLL OUT PROCESS
Changes to the new flying badges take effect between 1 Apr 20 and 1 Apr 21. From 1 Apr 20, entitled personnel (in accordance with QRJ727) may wear the new badges on FACS or PCS. Qualified MICs (including those previous qualified) are awarded entitlement for the Airborne Specialist Flying Badge from 1 Apr 20. Extant flying badges may be awarded up to the cut-off date of 1 Apr 21. Personnel, who qualified for the legacy flying badges before 1 Apr 21 may elect to continue to wear them but should note that the legacy badges will no longer be provisioned through Service sources. All entitled personnel are positively encouraged to adopt and wear the new flying badges under ASTRA.
The Fg B&TAs shall ensure that the new designs are available via the Defence Branding Portal and will notify some of the major UK suppliers of the new designs for the personal-expense badges. It will be the individual’s responsibility that these badges meet the design criteria and are worn in accordance with AP1358. Personnel not complying may be asked to remove them if noted to be non-compliant.
The Fg B&TAs will amend QRs, MRPs, JSPs, APs and other documentation as soon as possible.
New flying badges are unlikely to be in Defence Clothing Stores prior to 1 Apr 21.
Routine enquiries and requests for further information relating to RAF flying badges should be addressed to the Fg B&TAs. The RAF policy lead for QR 206 and QRJ727