|Service branch||Air forces|
|NATO rank code||OF-7|
|Formation||1 August 1919 (RAF)|
|Next higher rank||Air marshal|
|Next lower rank||Air commodore|
|Comparative military ranks|
Air vice-marshal (AVM) is a two-star air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force.The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure.
Air vice-marshal is a two-star rank and has a NATO ranking code of OF-7. It is equivalent to a rear-admiral in the Royal Navy or a major-general in the British Army or the Royal Marines. In other NATO forces, such as the United States Armed Forces and the Canadian Armed Forces, the equivalent two-star rank is major general.
The rank of air vice-marshal is immediately senior to the rank air commodore and immediately subordinate to the rank of air marshal. Since before the Second World War it has been common for air officers commanding RAF groups to hold the rank of air vice-marshal. In small air forces such as the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Ghana Air Force, the head of the air force holds the rank of air vice-marshal.
The equivalent rank in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force,Women's Royal Air Force (until 1968) and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (until 1980) was "air chief commandant".
On 1 April 1918, the newly created RAF adopted its officer rank titles from the British Army, with officers at what is now air vice-marshal level holding the rank of major-general. In response to the proposal that the RAF should use its own rank titles, it was suggested that the RAF might use the Royal Navy's officer ranks, with the word "air" inserted before the naval rank title. For example, the rank that later became air vice-marshal would have been air rear-admiral. The Admiralty objected to any use of their rank titles, including this modified form, and so an alternative proposal was put forward: air officer ranks would be based on the term "ardian", which was derived from a combination of the Gaelic words for "chief" (ard) and "bird" (eun), with the term "third ardian" or "squadron ardian" being used for the equivalent to rear admiral and major general. However, air vice-marshal was preferred and was adopted in August 1919.The following officers were the first to be appointed to the rank, and their former service ranks are also shown:
|Officer||Rank in RAF||Rank in Army||Rank in Navy|
|Sir Sefton Brancker||Major-general||Major-general||None|
|Sir Godfrey Paine||Major-general||None||Rear-admiral|
|Sir Geoffrey Salmond||Major-general||Major-general||None|
|Sir John Salmond||Major-general||Major-general||None|
|Sir Frederick Sykes||Major-general||Major-general||Wing captain|
|Sir Hugh Trenchard||Major-general||Major-general||None|
The rank insignia consists of a narrow light blue band (on a slightly wider black band) over a light blue band on a broad black band. This is worn on both the lower sleeves of the dress uniform or on the shoulders of the flying suit or working uniform.
The command flag of an air vice-marshal has two narrow red bands running through the centre.
The vehicle star plate for an air vice-marshal depicts two white stars (air vice-marshal is a two-star rank) on an air force blue background.
As of August 2014 [update] , air vice-marshal was the highest uniformed military rank currently held by a woman in the British Armed Forces when Air Vice-Marshal Elaine West was awarded the position in August 2013.
In 1920, Sir Willoughby Gwatkin, the former Canadian Chief of the General Staff, was granted the rank of air vice-marshal and appointed the inspector-general of the newly established Canadian Air Force.The Australian Air Corps adopted the RAF rank system on 9 November 1920 and this usage was continued by its successor, the Royal Australian Air Force. However, the rank of air vice-marshal was not used by the Australian Armed Forces until 1935 when Richard Williams, the Australian Chief of the Air Staff, was promoted. Margaret Staib of the Royal Australian Air Force served in the rank of air vice-marshal from 2009 to 2012 when she retired from the Australian Defence Force. In the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the rank did not come into use until 1943 when Leonard Isitt was appointed Chief of the Air Staff in succession to a British air commodore who had been on loan service. In India, Subroto Mukerjee was the first Royal Indian Air Force officer to gain the rank of air vice-marshal. He gained an acting promotion to air vice-marshal on 27 September 1948 and a substantive promotion several months later on 1 February 1949.
The rank of air vice-marshal is also used by a number of the air forces in the Commonwealth, including the Bangladesh Air Force,Ghana Air Force, Indian Air Force (IAF), Namibian Air Force, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) where it has been the rank held by the Chief of the Air Staff (now known as the Chief of Air Force) since 1943. It is also used in the Egyptian Air Force, Hellenic Air Force, Royal Air Force of Oman, Royal Thai Air Force and the Air Force of Zimbabwe. In the Indonesian Air Force the equivalent rank is marsekal muda (literally "junior marshal") which is usually translated as air vice-marshal in English. Compare this with the next rank up which is "marsekal madya" (literally "middle marshal") which is usually translated as air marshal in English.
The Royal Canadian Air Force used the rank until the 1968 unification of the Canadian Forces, when army-type rank titles were adopted. Canadian air vice-marshals then became major-generals. In official French Canadian usage, the rank title was vice-maréchal de l'air. The Royal Malaysian Air Force used the rank until the late 1970s when it was replaced with mejar jeneral (major-general) in similar fashion as Canada with army-type ranks.
South Vietnam 's air force, the Republic of Vietnam Air Force, which existed from 1955 until the North Vietnamese conquest of South Vietnam in 1975, also used the rank.
Marshal of the Royal Air Force (MRAF) is the highest rank in the Royal Air Force (RAF). In peacetime it was granted to RAF officers in the appointment of Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), and to retired Chiefs of the Air Staff (CAS), who were promoted to it on their last day of service. While surviving Marshals of the RAF retain the rank for life, the highest rank to which officers on active service are promoted is now air chief marshal. Although general promotions to Marshal of the Royal Air Force have been discontinued since the British defence cuts of the 1990s, further promotions to the rank may still be made in wartime, for members of the Royal Family and certain very senior RAF air officers in peacetime at the discretion of the monarch; all such promotions in peacetime are only honorary, however. In 2012, the then Prince of Wales was promoted to the rank in recognition of his support for his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as head of the armed forces (commander-in-chief), while in 2014 Lord Stirrup, who had served as Chief of the Air Staff and Chief of the Defence Staff for over seven years, was also promoted.
The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) is the professional head of the British Armed Forces and the most senior uniformed military adviser to the secretary of state for defence and the prime minister of the United Kingdom. The chief of the defence staff is based at the Ministry of Defence and works alongside the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Defence, the ministry's senior civil servant. The Chief of Defence is the highest ranking officer to currently serve in the armed forces.
Group captain is a senior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force, where it originated, as well as the air forces of many countries that have historical British influence. It is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-British air force-specific rank structure. Group captain has a NATO rank code of OF-5, meaning that it ranks above wing commander and immediately below air commodore, and is the equivalent of the rank of captain in the navy and of the rank of colonel in other services.
Air commodore is a one-star rank and is an air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence such as Zimbabwe, and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. The name of the rank is always the full phrase; it is never shortened to "commodore", which is a rank in various naval forces.
Air marshal is an air-officer rank which originated within the Royal Air Force. The rank is used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence, including many Commonwealth nations. The rank is usually equivalent to a vice admiral or a lieutenant general.
Air chief marshal is a high-ranking air officer originating from the Royal Air Force. The rank is used by air forces of many countries that have historical British influence. An air chief marshal is equivalent to an Admiral in a navy or a full general in an army or other nations' air forces.
Marshal of the air force or marshal of the air is a five-star rank and an English-language term for the most senior rank in some air forces. It is usually the direct equivalent of a general of the air force in other air forces, a field marshal or general of the army in many armies, or a naval admiral of the fleet.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) is the professional head of the Royal Air Force and a member of both the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Air Force Board. The post was created in 1918 with Major General Sir Hugh Trenchard as the first incumbent. The current and 30th Chief of the Air Staff is Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston, who succeeded Sir Stephen Hillier in July 2019.
The officer ranks of the Royal Air Force, as they are today, were introduced in 1919. Prior to that Army ranks were used.
The term used in the Royal Air Force (RAF) to refer to all ranks below commissioned officer level is other ranks (ORs). It includes warrant officers (WOs), non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and airmen.
Lieutenant general, formerly more commonly lieutenant-general, is a senior rank in the British Army and the Royal Marines. It is the equivalent of a multinational three-star rank; some British lieutenant generals sometimes wear three-star insignia, in addition to their standard insignia, when on multinational operations.
The Air Member for Personnel (AMP) is the senior Royal Air Force officer who is responsible for personnel matters and is a member of the Air Force Board. The AMP is in charge of all aspects of recruiting, non-operational flying and ground training, career management, welfare, terms, and conditions of service, and resettlement for RAF regular, reserve, and civilian staffs worldwide.
A four-star rank is the rank of any four-star officer described by the NATO OF-9 code. Four-star officers are often the most senior commanders in the armed services, having ranks such as (full) admiral, (full) general, colonel general, army general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air chief marshal. This designation is also used by some armed forces that are not North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members.
An officer of three-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-8. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, three-star officers hold the rank of vice admiral, lieutenant general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air marshal.
An officer of two-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-7. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, two-star officers hold the rank of rear admiral, counter admiral, major general, divisional general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air vice-marshal.
The Royal Air Force uniform is the standardised military dress worn by members of the Royal Air Force. The predominant colours of Royal Air Force uniforms are blue-grey and Wedgwood blue. Many Commonwealth air forces' uniforms are also based on the RAF pattern, but with nationality shoulder flashes. The Royal Air Force Air Cadets wear similar uniforms.
Air marshal is the second highest active rank of the Royal Australian Air Force and was created as a direct equivalent of the British Royal Air Force rank of air marshal, it is also considered a three-star rank. The rank is held by the Chief of Air Force (CAF), and when the Vice Chief of the Defence Force (VCDF), the Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS) and/or the Chief of the Capability Development executive (CCDE) are Air Force officers.
Captain (Capt) is a junior officer rank of the British Army and Royal Marines and in both services it ranks above lieutenant and below major with a NATO ranking code of OF-2. The rank is equivalent to a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and to a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. The rank of captain in the Royal Navy is considerably more senior and the two ranks should not be confused.
Controller Aircraft (CA), originally Controller of Aircraft, is a senior British Ministry of Defence appointment who is responsible for delivering an airworthy aircraft to the Services, whereupon the Service issues a Release to Service (RTS), releasing the aircraft into service. The difference between CA Release and RTS is normally one of Build Standard. Although usually held by a Royal Air Force officer, several civil servants have held the post in the 20th century. The incumbent is a member of the Air Force Board.