Air Forces security force with the RAAF Ensign and the Australian National Flag


An ensign is a military or naval flag indicating nationality.

The Royal Australian Air Force Ensign was approved in its current form by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1981, and proclaimed an Australian flag by His Excellency the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1982.

This made the Ensign the Battle Ensign of the Air Force, meaning it must be treated with dignity and respect worthy of Air Force's proud history.

History of the Ensign

When the Australian Flying Corps became the Royal Australian Air Force on 31 March 1921, it was decided to have an Ensign that reflected the national identity of our military aircraft, with a distinctive roundel (the circular symbol).

The Ensign was formally approved by the Air Board and Minister for Defence on 10 August 1921, however it was not processed for Royal approval. As such, the Royal Air Force Ensign (which is light blue with a large red, white and blue roundel) was adopted by the Royal Australian Air Force without change until 1948.  

The Royal Air Force Ensign

In 1948, it was decided to have an Ensign that would better reflect an Australian identity, so the Southern Cross and the Commonwealth Star were added and the Roundel reduced in size. This design was granted Royal approval in October 1948.

The Air Force Ensign from 1948-1982

On 2 July 1956, a unique Australian roundel was formally adopted for use on ADF aircraft (the central red circle was replaced with a red kangaroo in motion). However, the Air Force Ensign with its British Roundel was not changed until 1982.

On 6 May 1982, the current Air Force Ensign with the red kangaroo Roundel received Royal approval. A proclamation was also made by the Governor-General recognising the Ensign under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953 as the Royal Australian Air Force Ensign.

Use and purchase

The Air Force Ensign is flown on all RAAF Bases and establishments, with ceremonial protocols for how it is raised and lowered.

It may also be:

  • carried as part of a ceremonial parade;
  • used to cover the coffin at an Air Force military funeral or the funeral of a retired member; and
  • used by service-related organisations (such as the RAAF Association and RSL sub-branches) at ceremonies such as Anzac Day parades and Remembrance Day services.

The RAAF Ensign is not to be used for commercial or other profit-making purposes without the consent of Air Force Headquarters.

The manufacture, purchase and use of the Air Force Ensign is strictly controlled. The Air Force does not donate Ensigns to individuals, organisations or businesses. However, service-related organisations and funeral directors may apply to Air Force Headquarters for permission to purchase an Ensign. If approved, guidelines for use will be provided with a certificate of authority.

For permission, please send a written application with your contact details to:

Air Force Headquarters
Russell Offices
Canberra ACT 2600