The Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch), often abbreviated to RAFVR(T) is a voluntary element of the British Royal Air Force specifically appointed in a training role within the RAFVR. Members of the RAFVR(T) have no call-up liability and often operate part time on Air Experience Flights, Volunteer Gliding Squadrons, or more commonly in the local structure of the Air Cadet Organisation - either the RAF Sections of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF), or the Air Training Corps (ATC).
Recruitment and selection[edit | edit source]
Many RAFVR(T) Officers have previous military experience, commissioned, or other ranks service, and many have professional and educational qualifications, but unlike the requirements for joining the regular armed forces, applicants for RAFVR(T) positions are not required to have formal educational or other qualifications. It is also not uncommon to find RAFVR(T) staff hold commissions in the RAuxAF, RAFRO, or other services also. Many of the Pilots who man the AEF Flights are often retired regular service aircrew, some even at Air Commodore rank serving as supernumary Flying Officers RAFVR(T); adding much to the wealth and professional experience of the RAFVR(T)
Unlike the formal O&ASC process for regular service, selection is based upon relevant experience, a 30-minute Wing Board followed by another 30-minute Regional Board chaired by a Group Captain serving in the RAFR in the capacity of ATC Regional Commandant and 2 Wing Executive Officers (serving in the RAFR) from the Region. Since October 2007, all candidates that pass the interview Board are appointed as Officer Cadets until successful completion of the Officers' Initial Course (OIC) at RAF Cranwell.
As an Officer Cadet RAFVR(T), they wear a completely white rank slide with gilt VRT insignia in the centre. This is accompanied by standard officers' headdress with a white band (for peaked cap) or a white disc (when worn with a beret) until successful completion of their OIC. This is unlike other regular RAF Officer Cadets. Following completion of their OIC, a newly appointed Pilot Officer RAFVR(T) will then receive their rank slide. Since RAFVR(T) officers will generally be responsible for running either a CCF(RAF) section or an Air Training Corps squadron/detached flight, successful applicants are required to demonstrate qualities of commitment, motivation, extensive knowledge of the RAF and military/civil aviation, all underpinned by a willingness and aptitude to work with young people in an instructional environment. Many have educational or youth work experience and qualifications in specialist areas of outward bound youth work.
Candidates for commissions in CCF(RAF) sections are initially selected by the head teacher, although HQAC (Headquarters Air Cadets) has the right to impose a veto. Other members of the RAFVR(T) serve as flying instructors on the Volunteer Gliding Squadrons or as pilots on Air Experience Flights - the latter are often former military pilots who have left the regular service and are commissioned into the RAFVR(T) on appointment to the AEF.
Uniform[edit | edit source]
RAFVR(T) members wear the same uniform worn by regular Royal Air Force or active reserve Royal Auxiliary Air Force commissioned Officers, with the exception that gilt "VRT" insignia is worn on the lapels of formal dress uniforms and on top of the rank braid on the epaulettes and tabs of working dress uniforms. Thus the RAFVR (T) follows the traditional dress regulation of the senior air force formation, the RAuxAF, by the placing of its gilt collar lapel "VRT" badges in the position occupied by the "A" badges that are still worn by RAuxAF Officers when in No.1 dress uniform. RAFVR(T) Officers are required to still wear gilt VRT badges on top of rank braid when wearing No.2 dress uniform (or other working dress) at all times. However, when there is a FOD (Foreign Object Damage) risk the entire rank badge may be removed. By contrast, RAuxAF Officers now do not wear their "A" badges on working dress uniform at any time, in response to the expanded use of the active reserves on routine operations and support duties within the regular service.
Training[edit | edit source]
All RAFVR(T) officers are required to attend and pass the Officers' Initial Course (OIC) held at the Adult Training Facility (ATF), a lodger unit at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, usually within the first 12 months of their appointment. This week-long course covers the basic roles and responsibilities of an RAFVR(T) Officer and very few fail. Those successfully completing the course are awarded their commissioning parchment and are confirmed as a commissioned officer (although under the current system, all VR(T) Officers are commissioned from the day that they pass their interview, and the commissioning scroll is dated to that day) and are treated similarly to regular Officers. Another 1-week course at the ATF, the Officers Senior Course, is required for those seeking to command a squadron. RAFVR(T) officers involved in CCF or ATC Units may undertake extra training before becoming appointed as an Officer Commanding of their Unit, although this training is not compulsory for Officers associated with the CCF. Some also take specialist training for certain activities: physical training (PT) or shooting for example.
They are supported at ATC unit level by fellow RAFVR(T) Officers, as well as uniformed ATC Warrant Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers and a highly-motivated cadre of Civilian Instructors. Although not in the chain of command the Wings are supported by a Wing Executive Officer of Sqn Ldr Rank in the RAFR. At CCF(RAF) contingents, RAFVR(T) Officers are able to call upon the support of the regular RAF Squadron Leader tasked with looking after their area, and also upon the services of the regular RAF 'TEST' Sergeants mapped to their specific school. VGS and AEF Officers are supported directly by HQ Air Cadet Staff, and the Unit's parent RAF Station.
Ranks[edit | edit source]
Although the Air Cadet Organisation has officers with ranks above that of Wing Commander, these ranks are held by members of the RAFR or Regular RAF. The RAFVR(T) currently consists only of commissioned officers. All RAFVR(T) Officers hold a maximum substantive rank of Flying Officer, all other RAFVR(T) ranks above that of Flying Officer are acting (either paid or unpaid) ranks.
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References[edit | edit source]