History of the AAFC

The Australian Air Force Cadets was formed in Australia as the Air Training Corps on the 11th June 1941, to provide pre-entry training for young men between the ages of 16 and 18 years,who wanted to join the RAAF as air and ground crews to during WWII. At that time, the Air Training Corps was divided into six wings, one in each state (except the Northern Territory). Each Wing had its headquarters established in the capital city of each state.

As the war progressed. the Corps was to have two objectives. The first, and short-term objective, was still to provide for the general education of who desired eventually to join the RAAF. The second, or long-term objective, to come into force after the the Second World War, was to encourage young men to increase their knowledge of air matters and in particular the RAAF, instill a sense of discipline, and provide elementary training in technical matters. Thus, even at that stage, a continuing post-war role was seen for the Corps.

Between 1946 and 1948, when many RAAF members were demobilized and operations scaled down for post war years, the aims changed to reflect the peacetime role. Squadrons were relegated to Flights.The Reserve Magazine of December 1949 set out the composition and conditions for the postwar ATC as an 'air youth movement', and gave its numbers as 'at least 3,000'. It stated that cadets were under no obligation to enlist in the RAAF, but preference would be extended to them should they desire to do so.

In 1974, the cadet forces (including the ATC) were scheduled to be disbanded, however after a change in the federal government, the Air Training Corps (AIRTC) was re-raised and reformed as a community-based and supported organization.

In the early 1980s there was a significant change to the AIRTC, as female staff and cadets were admitted.

In 1991 the was an initial attempt to standardize training on a national basis. Then in 2000, the government commissioned the Topley Review, which initiated the first sign of enhanced Government support. In the same year, the Directorate of Defence Force Cadets (DDFC) was formed, which provided Tri-Service policy support for the Australian Defence Force Cadets (ADFC). As a result of the Topley Review, in 2001 the AIRTC was renamed 'Australian Air Force Cadets' (AAFC).

Until 2004-2005, the AAFC had effectively operated as eight separate organizations culturally based on state political boundaries. Subsequently, in 2005 the AAFC was reorganized into operational and functional wings, with an Office of the Chief of Staff, to provide national policy with command authority. The traditional operational wings continued to function, and were organized as follows:

  • 1 Wing - North Queensland
  • 2 Wing - Queensland
  • 3 Wing - New South Wales
  • 4 Wing - Victoria
  • 5 Wing - Tasmania
  • 6 Wing - South Australia
  • 7 Wing - Western Australia
  • 8 Wing - Northern Territory

In 2006 the DDFC was renamed Cadet Policy Branch (CPB) and moved to Defence Personnel Executive, and in 2007, the federal government announced a $100m/10 year support initiative for cadets.