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Our people

Our Royal New Zealand Air Force is powered by highly trained professionals, who embody and promote New Zealand’s values.

We are made up of a diverse range of New Zealanders, who reflect the values and attitudes of our population. Our Regular Force, Reserves and civilian employees work together to do their job at home and overseas.

Our people, who we refer to as airmen, are the most important part of our capability; they are central to our success. They belong to a team and they rely on each other to be successful.

Regular Force

Our Regular Force is made up of people who fill a wide variety of roles. Our people are trained in skills specific to their trade as well as military skills applicable to their role such as planning, leadership and command. They serve on and support operational deployments and undertake training, both in New Zealand and overseas. Our people also fill management and corporate functions on bases, camps and in headquarters.


Our Reserves provide extra depth and diversity by working and training with us part-time. Reserves complement our Regular Force by providing additional capacity and expertise, ready to respond to events in New Zealand and overseas.

Civilian personnel 

Civilian employees fill a wide range of specialist and corporate roles that do not require deployment to an operational environment. The work they do is essential to our Air Force. 

Air crew in the flight deck of the C-130H(NZ) bank toward Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport in Dili, Timor-Leste. A Royal New Zealand Air Force Safety and surface technician checks the helmet on an airmen in a tent with the C-130H(NZ) Hercules aircraft on the flightline in the back on a nice day An aircrew member of a C-130H(NZ) Hercules aircraft wearing night vision goggles at dusk in front of the aircraft on the flightline

By the numbers 

Our Air Force is comprised of more than 2,800 Regular Force and Reserve personnel, as set out in the following tables.

Information last updated: 3 March 2024

Headcount by arm

TOTAL 2,841

Regular Force headcount by gender

female 565
male 1,818  
Total 2,383

Our ranks 

The rank system forms the backbone of our military structure and defines the role of commissioned and non-commissioned personnel, and the degree of responsibility they hold.

Commissioned Officers


Air Marshal

Air Vice-Marshal AVM
Air Commodore AIRCDRE
Group Captain GPCAPT
Wing Commander WGCDR

Squadron Leader 


Flight Lieutenant


Flying Officer


Pilot Officer


Non-Commissioned Personnel


Warrant Officer

Flight Sergeant F/S
Sergeant SGT
Corporal CPL
Leading Aircraftman LAC
Aircraftman AC

View the full list of NZDF ranks here

Our creed

I belong to the Royal New Zealand Air Force
I am committed to our mission and values
I honour our legacy and embrace our future
I have the courage to stand for what is right
I serve the people of New Zealand in peace, crisis and conflict
I am a guardian of Aotearoa
Ko te tauaarangi ahau
I am an airman