The Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) unveiled the new Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircrew badge (‘wings’) at North Bay’s 22 Wing/Canadian Air Defence Sector on Friday, October 23.
The badge was converted from the current upswept flight crew specialty badge to the more appropriate out-stretched full wing Aircrew Flying badge and will be worn by AWACS qualified Aerospace Controllers (AECs) and Aerospace Control Operators (AC Ops). The timing of this ceremony was fitting given that October 2020 marks the 80th anniversary of air defence operations in the RCAF.
When the AWACS positions were established in 1974, it was assumed that AECs and AC Ops in those positions did not directly contribute to the safe operation of the aircraft, which would justify an upswept wing-style aircrew flying badge. In addition, it was assumed they would only fly occasionally. Our understanding of their responsibilities has changed.
“As the RCAF has developed into an air power, we have come to realize that the extent of duties being performed by these aviators far exceeds those laid out or foreseen almost fifty years ago,” said Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander RCAF. “Many current personnel have more than 1000 flying hours, and have participated in multiple combat operations. We want to recognize their airborne operational aircrew responsibilities to conduct global AWACS operations in a 5th generation combat environment. This badge allows us…