RAAF is dropping ‘Royal Australian’ from its name

I received numerous ministerial and departmental press release recently that include references to “Air Force” without any reference to “Royal Australian Air Force” or “RAAF” – and thought I was ‘on to something’.

Here are some examples…

And, here’s a very interesting example (added May 2021) – the Air Force Newspaper that reported on the RAAF’s Centenary, contained 149 references to “Air Force” (not counting the newspaper’s name) and only six references to the “Royal Australian Air Force” – four of which were in advertisements.

Without going into details, I initially thought I had erroneously and too quickly jumped to a false conclusion on this, but, after publishing a retraction, I was contacted by several people, including RAAF members, who told me there actually is an (unofficial) active campaign to preference “Air Force” over “Royal Australian Air Force” – even to the extent that ‘Royal Australian’ comes back crossed out with red pen from higher-rank clearance processes.

Yet, when asked officially, Defence responded…

Defence can confirm that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has not, and does not intend to discontinue the use of either the national indicator ‘Australian’, nor the ‘Royal’ prefix approved by King George V in June 1921.
However, it is also acceptable convention to refer to the RAAF as ‘Air Force’; particularly in the domestic context, or where mentioned in conjunction with their sibling services Navy and Army.

Ironically, the very next day after receiving the official assurance above, I received a press release from Defence that started off with “After 35 years in the Australian Air Force…” – feeling the need to clarify that they were referring specifically to our domestic air force, while pointedly excluding the ‘Royal’ prefix.

I also found this statement on the web site of what used to be called the Royal Australian Air Force Association – now called Air Force Association…

…in 2016, when the Association’s National entity became a Company Limited by Guarantee the title was formally changed to reflect its early commonly referred title, ‘Air Force Association’, which is also in keeping with the RAAF’s branding as ‘Air Force’.

Does anyone need any more proof that RAAF has a deliberate, considered, discussed and promulgated ‘branding policy’ that dictates the dropping of ‘Royal Australian’ from their name? (and marks the official answer given to CONTACT by Defence as a lie, or at best, deliberate obfuscation)

I will continue to monitor this issue 😉

Brian Hartigan





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4 thoughts on “RAAF is dropping ‘Royal Australian’ from its name

  • 16/10/2022 at 4:50 pm

    Who knows: maybe the time has come to grant recognition to the military. Anyone fancy “Royal Australian Army” and at the same time, relegating the Navy to no longer be the ‘senior (sic) service’?

  • 23/09/2020 at 9:17 am

    I hope this is just a satire post. the Royal Australian title is only removed from branding to create something that is easier to associate with and say. If Australians are talking about the Navy or Air Force… good bet that we are talking about our Services.

    All official publications and references in Defence (even the text in most of the press releases) still uses the full title of Royal Australian Navy or Royal Australian Air Force.

    • 23/09/2020 at 10:17 am

      Hi James. The story (now deleted) was not satire – it was a stupid human error, for which I wholeheartedly apologise.
      Brian Hartigan, Editor.

    • 08/10/2020 at 1:57 pm

      Hi James. I’ve had cause to retract my retraction of this story (now amended from original), because it turns out there may actually be a non-promulgated senior-officer campaign to actually use Air Force in place of Royal Australian Air Force by preference. There are plenty of examples cited in the story – and a new one today prompted me to re-visit.


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