Squadron leader

A squadron leader's sleeve/shoulder insignia

Squadron leader (Sqn Ldr in the RAF ; SQNLDR in the RAAF and RNZAF; formerly sometimes S/L in all services) is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force[1] and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure.

An air force squadron leader ranks above flight lieutenant and immediately below wing commander and it is the most junior of the senior officer ranks. The air force rank of squadron leader has a NATO ranking code of OF-3, equivalent to a lieutenant-commander in the Royal Navy or a major in the British Army or the Royal Marines. The equivalent rank in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, Women's Royal Air Force (until 1968) and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (until 1980) was "squadron officer".

Squadron leader has also been used as a cavalry command appointment (UK) and rank (France) since at least the nineteenth century. In Argentina it is used as a command appointment by both the army's cavalry and by the air force's flying units. The cavalry rank of squadron leader in France is also an OF-4 equivalent to a major, and the cavalry appointment of squadron leader in the UK generally corresponds to this rank as well.

Origins

The rank originated in the British Royal Air Force and was adopted by several other air forces which use, or used, the RAF rank system.

On 1 April 1918, the newly created RAF adopted its officer rank titles from the British Army, with Royal Naval Air Service lieutenant commanders and Royal Flying Corps majors becoming majors in the RAF. 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 squadron leader would have been air lieutenant commander. However, the Admiralty objected to this modification of their rank titles. The rank title squadron leader was chosen as squadrons were typically led by RAF majors and the term squadron commander had been used in the Royal Naval Air Service. The rank of squadron leader has been used continuously since 1 August 1919.

Navies Armies Air forces
Commissioned officers
Admiral of
the fleet
Field marshal or
General of the Army
Marshal of
the air force
Admiral General Air chief marshal
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Rear admiral Major general Air vice-marshal
Commodore Brigadier or
brigadier general
Air commodore
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Commander Lieutenant colonel Wing commander
Lieutenant
commander
Major or
Commandant
Squadron leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
Lieutenant
junior grade
or
sub-lieutenant
Lieutenant or
first lieutenant
Flying officer
Ensign or
midshipman
Second lieutenant Pilot officer
Officer cadet Officer cadet Flight cadet
Enlisted grades
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chief petty officer
Warrant officer or
sergeant major
Warrant officer
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bombardier
Corporal
Seaman Private or
gunner or
trooper
Aircraftman or
airman
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Other Languages
Ελληνικά: Επισμηναγός
français: Squadron leader
italiano: Capo squadrone
Bahasa Melayu: Ketua Skuadron
українська: Сквадрон-лідер