New RAF Remote Pilot Brevet

[size=1]my poor attempt at a recognition training picture of the brevet[/size]

[quote=“Nick Hopkins, Friday 14 December 2012 18.05 GMT”]
[size=5]RAF drone pilots to get their own wings[/size]

Air force chief Stephen Dalton says new badges for remotely controlled UAVs recognises service’s increasing reliance on them

Pilots of the RAF’s remotely controlled drones are to be given their own version of the service’s ‘wings’ badge as the military looks to expand the use of the technology, it emerged on Friday.

In what is thought to be the first change to the badge for qualified pilots, the head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton, said the move reflected the importance and “increasing reliance upon remotely piloted capabilities”.

The RAF was at the “leading edge” of the weapons systems, he said.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute, Dalton said unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would be essential for the RAF and argued the service also had to look to space as another “new fertile ground for intellectual and technical development”.

“With our partners we are seeking to exploit the military opportunities which technology can provide and to fully embrace the remotely piloted air systems potential,” he told the thinktank.

“Their persistence, their sensors, the lethal precision of their weapons all contribute to a complementary and cost‑effective way to conduct warfare where operational threats and environments permit.”

In recognition of the growing importance of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS), and the skill, complexity and professionalism needed to operate them, those who flew the aircraft would have their own badge, Dalton said.

It will have blue laurel leaves to distinguish it from the regular badge and will be awarded from April next year.

Dalton made clear that UAV pilots would be qualified aviators in their own right, and would “only be drawn from commissioned officers who we deem to be best placed to deal with the complex and often ambiguous battle space”.

The RAF bought five Reaper UAVs in 2008 and another five are due to be in service imminently. They will all be flown in support of British military operations in Afghanistan.

In his speech, Dalton said he wanted to explore the possibilities offered by a new generation of miniature reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering satellites. He said they would have been particularly useful in the early days of the Libyan campaign.

"The cost of entry to space has historically only allowed a few nations to participate but, increasingly, this barrier is lowering as commercial opportunities become increasingly affordable. This is an opportunity which I am keen for the Royal Air Force to grasp particularly in the realms of cost effective intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“For example, nano and cube satellites offer a far lower‑cost method of accessing space capabilities which can meet the uncertain and contingent challenges of the future. A cluster of low earth orbit micro satellites launched in March 2011 would have given us unmatched understanding of what was going on in Libya during that critical early phase.”

Dalton said there was “always a temptation to under invest” in military capabilities between crises, but warned the countries enemies “cannot be relied upon to follow this trend”.

“Those adversaries who have stolen the initiative in the air, the ground or at sea intellectually or technically have had and, more importantly, could in the future have near decisive effect at the outset of a conflict. In recent history, these lessons have been heeded by successive governments, and decades of near continuous operations for the Royal Air Force have seen us strive constantly to control the skies.”[/quote]
(see [url][/url] or the current edition of RAF News}


Interesting stuff

I wonder if they will open this up for direct entry as per regular pilot selection, or will it be open to currently serving officers only (some re-branching WSO’s or ABM’s perhaps). May be wrong but aren’t all the current UAV drivers QMP’s ? Perhaps some scope to relax the medical/age requirements slightly if they open it up to non QMP types, although I’m sure UAV pilots still require Class 1 medicals.

Or is the CAS perhaps inferring that it will be a streaming route for those applying for pilot ?


Ah The Telegraph says…

So guessing they will be expected to complete EFT then move on to a UAV specific course in the same way current pilots complete EFT and are then streamed for FJ,ME or RW.


Drone pilot is to be a DE option

But surely still via an EFT stream, as per Mike Bravo’s analysis?


Yes but they will be unable to cross to manned ac. Unlike traditional pilots who can do both.

Eh? How does that make sense? So they go the full distance EFT on Tutor, but…ah, so they then don’t stream Tucano/Firefly, as in FJ/ME+RW? And effectively, when they go solo, it’s on an RPV…? (Mike Bravo, that’s what you mean too, yes?)

I wonder if that means someone who achieves the PFB at UAS (so, not these days quite the same as EFT, but headed to it), and wants to become RP qualified, could just go straight into the hot-seat (as opposed to the cockpit, if you see what I mean)? Obviously after IOT etc.


ps I still get brassed-off when people (especially UAS studes) appear to be completely-oblivious about the history/origins of the PFB. When the brevet was created, the 1950s expectation was that VR pilots (prior to personally-achieving full Pilot qual/solo) could have been called-up to fly operationally in battle against the North Koreans/Chinese/Russians, in a thankfully-it-never-happened expansion of the Korean War (which is shorthand for WW3 without the atom bombs)

Eh? How does that make sense? So they go the full distance EFT on Tutor, but…ah, so they then don’t stream Tucano/Firefly, as in FJ/ME+RW? And effectively, when they go solo, it’s on an RPV…? (Mike Bravo, that’s what you mean too, yes?) [/quote]

Yep, just as you can go full distance at EFT and be streamed back to OASC for re-branching or offered a P45. It makes sense as of course FJ pilots go straight to Tucano, ME back to the Tutor and RW to Shawbury, so for a RPAS pilot, no further manned aircraft training is strictly necessary.

It could very well happen. Opens up possibilities perhaps for their use as reserves and auxiliaries?

In my experience the PFB is much sought after by the current crop of UAS students. Although now awarded far sooner (just over 30hrs - about the point of the old Spin/Aeros Check, but Nav being taught up to that point, rather than Spinning/Aeros) than it was historically, it is seen as a gateway to doing the advanced applied modules of flying. If it was awarded at any later stage, it was almost cease to exist at some Sqns.

I’m fairly sure I’ve got mine somewhere. As for the RPAS flying badge, personally I think it could have been made a little more different than the “manned” wings.

[quote=“chaz” post=3348]
I’m fairly sure I’ve got mine somewhere. [/quote]

That raises an interesting possibility, one that would only apply if you hadn’t subsequently qualified for a full pilot’s brevet, and were now a CFAV: that is, the wearing of the PFB as either a VRT Officer, or a WO/SNCO(ATC), or by a CI on flying coveralls. It would be entirely legitimate, as it is a formally-recognised brevet in QRs.

Back in the early '80s I saw a few PFBs worn by ex-UAS members of the ROC, in the era when I was just starting to see the end of WW2 medals/brevets/badges worn on RAF uniform. So saying, I have paraded with an RAFVR Flt Lt who (as well as KC wings) had the Pathfinder eagle, as late as 1992.

[quote=“chaz” ]
As for the RPAS flying badge, personally I think it could have been made a little more different than the “manned” wings.[/quote]
They may eventually be different when issued, I based my illustration directly on the description in the article. Why couldn’t they just have issued them with WESO half-wings I wonder?


[quote=“wilf_san” post=3350]

Good illustration. Fits the description I’d heard. :slight_smile:


Good illustration. Fits the description I’d heard. :)[/quote]

It’s just a bodge-job, but ideally it’ll aid in recognition when they appear as from April.

On a similar note, here’s the difference between US Air Force pattern basic wings, and RPA/UAV wings…


ps I’m proud to say I know a long-retired RAFVR pilot who was formally-issued with a set of the basic USAF-pattern wings back in WW2…they are impressive, and not as shiny as the brand-new RPA wings in the middle.

Our OC Wg still wears his PFB.

Our OC Wg still wears his PFB.[/quote]

That’s interesting, I didn’t realise people did that.

The new badge seems pretty good, I like it.

Our OC Wg still wears his PFB.[/quote]

That’s interesting, I didn’t realise people did that.

Certainly entitled to be worn as a PFB, if not replaced by another brevet. Standard brevet rules presumably, as in ‘may be worn on air force, army or lieutenancy uniforms, but not on any naval uniform’


Just read a very interesting article in latest RAF Historical society journal about history of Army pilots and their wings, including the army glider pilots wings which I think we’re the basis for our air cadet glider pilot wings? Does any one have any historical info or references on the air cadet glider pilot wings? Thanks

Well spotted, never thought of that…

I may have a history of gliding in the Corps somewhere, from way back before I joined. Will dig for. After digging more snow.

Looks possible, except the aspect ratio of the feathers is different. Air Cadet ones look like they’re evolved for short hops (Sparrow?), whereas the Army ones are like soaring Condor or Albatross bird-wings.

Basic Glider Pilot Wings (Glider Pilot Regiment)


I just read your thread about PFBs on Pprune Wilf. Interesting you make the comparison to the PPL syllabus; these days post EASA you can be post OCU with full wings and several thousand hours and you’re not entitled to a PPL! What has the world come to? :blush:

Wow, that must have been a while ago, must re-read what I wrote back then…thanks for the reminder!


The army glider pilot wings illustrated were the glider pilot second class wings. The first pilots wore the full wings, ie with the crown and lion in the middle. The second pilot wings were instigated in 1943. The first class glider pilot did a full EFTS course before flying gliders. This was omitted for second class glider pilots who were trained on gliders only and flew mainly as co-pilots. In the 1950s a poor representation of these were approved for B category QGIs on gliding schools. There was no brevet for lesser qualifications. The badge was improved in the seventies to be the same as the army ones, but since then they have become poor quality and the wrong shape. I remonstrated at HQAC about the poor quality and was told that the company that made them were the lowest tender (Sounds right?).Then in the early eighties those wings were approved for Grade 1 and C cat instructors, B cats and above being authorised to wear wings surmounted by the Queens Crown. Unfortunately to this day they remain very poor quality and not worth wearing even on your jim jams. Finally drone pilots should really have an arm badge like the Flying MO.