Royal Air Force Number 22 Group provides the qualified and skilled personnel that the RAF and the other two Services need to carry out operations world-wide. 22 Group has a wide area of interest with responsibilities for many aspects of training. 

It's primary functions are to provide the Initial Training to RAF Officers at RAF Cranwell and Basic Training for aviators at RAF Halton, to run the Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC) and to provide specialist joint training to personnel from all three services. This specialist training covers areas such as Aeronautical Engineering, Communications and Information Systems, Electro & Mechanical Engineering, and flying training for all types of aircraft.

Mission statement

"Efficiently deliver world-class trained and educated personnel, RAF sport and the premier cadet force experience in order to support RAF strategy to meet Defence commitments."


22 Group directly employs 3,800 military and 1,900 civilian personnel. The Air Cadet Organisation has approximately 41,000 cadets and 12,000 adult volunteers. Each year, the Group trains around 61,000 individuals at varying levels of training across its 53 sites. A selection of these sites house some of the 420 or so training aircraft owned by the Group.

Always Rising again


Air Officer Commanding 22 Group sits at the head of the organisation as well as occupying the role of Chief of Staff Training for the RAF. The Group is divided into 6 ‘pillars’, each headed by its own 1 Star Commander.

These pillars each have their own responsibilities in fulfilling the Group’s mission:

Directorate of Ground Training (DGT)

The Directorate of Ground Training delivers RAF individual training and education policy, governance, assurance and support. Composed of Training Policy and Plans, Adventure Training, Force Development and Air Power Education.

Directorate of Flying Training (DFT)

This provides a wide range of courses that train officers and Non-Commissioned Aircrew (NCA) to the high standards needed when flying on modern operations.

The Directorate of Flying Training delivers competent and highly trained military aircrew, Air Traffic Controllers and Flight Operations personnel to meet front line requirements. Comprising Elementary Flying Training and Advanced Flying Training (Multi-Engine, Fast Jet, Rotary Wing).

Defence College of Technical Training (DCTT)

Royal Navy, Army and RAF technical training and education is delivered by the Defence College of Technical Training to around 20,000 trainees per annum through four Defence schools focussed upon specialisations of aeronautical engineering, electronic and mechanical engineering, marine engineering, and communications and information systems engineering. The Schools are located across six sites with Royal Navy training being delivered at HMS SULTAN in Gosport, Army and Royal Marine training at MOD Lyneham and Blandford Garrison, and RAF training at RAF Cosford, MOD St Athan and RAF Digby.   DCTT provides initial training to Service personnel entering the Armed Forces in the engineering trades, and delivers development training to qualified engineers throughout their careers. 

Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC)

The RAF's Air Cadets is one of the country's premier youth organisations and the world's largest youth air training organisation, supported by thousands of dedicated volunteer staff. Composed of the Air Training Corps (ATC), Combined Cadet Force (CCF) RAF sections, Gliding and Air Experience Flying.

Royal Air Force College (RAFC)

Delivers Recruit and Officer Training, and administers the University Air Squadrons, from RAF Cranwell.

Directorate of RAF Sport (DRS)

RAF sport at individual, unit, Service and inter-service levels and is responsible for providing guidance to volunteer sporting committees throughout the RAF.

Through these pillars, 22 Group works with local communities, recruits and selects individuals to join the Service, provides comprehensive training, looks after individuals’ professional development and helps them resettle into civilian life after leaving the Service.


Air Vice-Marshal Ian "Cab" Townsend CBE MA RAF

AVM Townsend commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1992. Flying Harriers from 1997 – 2010 (including operations in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan), he commanded 3(F) Sqn flying Typhoon from 2012-2014 leading the UK’s first Baltic Air Policing operation. He acted as the F35B Lightning HQ  Chief of Staff, Deputy Force Cdr and Force Cdr between 2014-2017. Townsend commanded RAF Marham between 2017 - 2019 where he led the retirement of Tornado GR4 and simultaneously generated F35B Lightning Initial Operational Capability. Promoted to the Capability Strategy role in 2020, Townsend took command of AOC 22 Gp in May 2023.






Key dates

1918 - 1919

Due to be formed on 1 April 1918, the same day as the RAF was established, the Group was not activated until 1 July that year. It controlled No. 78 Wing RAF and its airfields in Scotland. The Group was disbanded on 30 May 1919

1926 - 1940

The second incarnation began 12 April 1926 when the Group was re-formed from No 7 Group within Inland Area. The Group, responsible for controlling all Army Co-operation work, became part of Fighter Command and was disbanded on 1 December 1940 with the creation of Army Co-operation Command.

1943 - 1972

3 years later, Numbers 72 and 20 Groups were combined and renamed Number 22 Group on 1 August 1943 as Technical Training Command. For 30 years, the group was responsible for similar functions to that for which it is responsible today, before its disbandment on 31 January 1972.

2006 - Present

The current iteration of 22 Group began was established on 30 October 2006, encompassing the Training Group which it was replacing.