Type of entity
Authorized form of name
Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.)
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Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules
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The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is the air and space force of Canada. Its role is to "provide the Canadian Forces with relevant, responsive and effective air power". The RCAF is one of three environmental commands within the unified Canadian Armed Forces. As of 2020, the Royal Canadian Air Force consists of 12,074 Regular Force and 1,969 Primary Reserve personnel, supported by 1,518 civilians, and operates 258 manned aircraft and nine unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Royal Canadian Air Force is responsible for all aircraft operations of the Canadian Forces, enforcing the security of Canada's airspace and providing aircraft to support the missions of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army. The RCAF is a partner with the United States Air Force in protecting continental airspace under the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The RCAF also provides all primary air resources to and is responsible for the National Search and Rescue Program.
The RCAF traces its history to the Canadian Air Force, which was formed in 1920. The Canadian Air Force was granted royal sanction in 1924 by King George V to form the Royal Canadian Air Force. In 1968, the RCAF was amalgamated with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army, as part of the unification of the Canadian Forces. Air units were split between several different commands: Air Defence Command (ADC; interceptors), Air Transport Command (ATC; airlift, search and rescue), Mobile Command (tactical fighters, helicopters), Maritime Command (anti-submarine warfare, maritime patrol), as well as Training Command (TC).
In 1975, some commands (ADC, ATC, TC) were dissolved, and all air units were placed under a new environmental command called simply Air Command (AIRCOM). Air Command reverted to its historic name of "Royal Canadian Air Force" in August 2011.
The Royal Canadian Air Force has served in the Second World War, the Korean War, the Persian Gulf War, as well as several United Nations peacekeeping missions and NATO operations. As a NATO member, the force maintained a presence in Europe during the second half of the 20th century.