You'll obtain, analyse and present different forms of intelligence to support our staff in hostile environments.
Pay after training
17.5 - 36
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UK citizen since birth
male or female
Qualifications you need
2 A-levels (at grade A-C) or 3 Highers or equivalent, plus 5 GCSE/SCEs at Grade C/2 minimum or equivalent including English language and a grade B/1 in maths. Please note: the RAF does not accept A-levels in Critical Thinking or General Studies at any grade.
Qualifications you can gain
Degree or Masters degree
Whether or not you were born in the United Kingdom, you should have resided there for the five years immediately preceding your application.
The RAF’s Intelligence specialisation gathers, analyses and provides defence intelligence – in both peace and war.
It’s a highly specialised field that offers exciting opportunities within a fast-moving, international environment.
After your training, you will be posted to the Air Warfare Centre at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire to undertake air intelligence duties.
Following this, you could be attached to the Tactical Imagery Wing, where your abilities will be tested to the full as you manage the rapid interpretation of incoming reconnaissance imagery.
Alternatively, you could be a Squadron Intelligence Officer producing intelligence assessments in order to brief aircrews before their missions.
Or you could be posted to the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC) at RAF Brampton in Cambridgeshire, or even to the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) at Northwood in Middlesex to assist in operational planning and management.
I do this job
Pete Warren Rothwell
‘In this job, you’re fully exposed to the real meaning of what being in the Armed Forces is all about.’
‘Our job is to collect information, analyse that information, produce intelligence and distribute that information. I probably have one of the broadest understandings of our operations and aspects of what we do as an armed fighting force.
‘Training for Intelligence Officers has changed radically in recent years, moving beyond imagery analysis into operational intelligence, where you analyse information from a whole range of sources. You’re taught the techniques and mindset of operational intelligence and then, if you have the aptitude, you can specialise in imagery analysis, working on photo reconnaissance.’
‘Here at Leuchars, my work is primarily to support the squadron. If they have exercises or operations coming up, I’ll do all the intelligence groundwork to make sure that when they’re receiving briefings prior to flying the missions, they’ll already know the threat scenarios they’ll be operating in and the kind of capabilities that they’ll be coming up against.’
‘There are lots of opportunities to be deployed away from base on operations. The best experience for me was supporting air operations policing the UN no-fly zone over southern Iraq. You’ve got sand blowing around outside and jets taking off to fly over hostile territory – the job really comes to life then.
‘When you brief aircrews before their missions, you’re very aware that the intelligence analysis and information you give them is a vital contribution towards their safe return; otherwise they could encounter any number of risks.’
‘Living in the RAF community is a mixture of socialising, working hard and playing hard, and that’s all part of building a working relationship with the people you’re going to be providing intelligence for.
‘I joined the Air Force for diversity and I’ve certainly had that. I’ve had several different postings with different challenges in each one. I get a lot out of my job and the people I work with – we’re all professionals.’
‘In the RAF, we live, work and play together – and that camaraderie keeps us going when we’re on operations.’
‘As the Intelligence Officer for a Tornado squadron at RAF Marham in Norfolk, my role is to support the aircrew with intelligence when they’re flying over Iraq. The information comes in from a range of sources, then we synthesise it, make an assessment and brief the aircrew. We also debrief them about what they have experienced when they get back.
‘It’s difficult to overestimate the importance to aircrew of up-to-date intelligence about what’s happening on the ground. For example, we frequently tell them about the location of insurgent groups who have weapons that could fire against aircraft.’
‘If the aircrew are here at RAF Marham, they will probably be doing training sorties over the UK. I will be based out at the airfield, and spend all day with them until they go flying. My job is to write imaginary scenarios for them to use during the sorties and suggest threats for them to react to.
‘If things are quieter, I use the time to keep up to date with classified documents. I certainly know a lot about what’s going on in the world!’
‘The highlight of my RAF career was when I spent a month in Basra, dealing with intelligence about threats to the air station and the air assets. Everything seemed a lot more immediate – the threat was 12 miles away instead of a couple of thousand miles.’
‘I love living in the Officers’ Mess. There are about 100 of us, so there’s always a friend around if you want to talk. And socially we’re always doing stuff – which builds the teamwork and camaraderie that underpins any of the Armed Forces.’
What’s your favourite bit of the job?
The best thing about my job is knowing about what’s happening in the world.
What’s the worst bit of your job?
I don’t know actually. Probably long hours while we’re on operations, but that’s also a bonus because you get to know everything about the job by working on it for long periods of time.
What did you want to be when you were 16?
What do you do at lunchtime?
Have lunch in the aircrew feeder, which is a little café for the aircrew where they can have staggered lunches, because they don’t fly at set times.
What’s your favourite meal in the Mess?
Jacket potato and beans.
Initial Officer Training
Like all our officers, you’ll begin your RAF career with Initial Officer Training (IOT) at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire.
You’ll follow a challenging 30 week course designed to develop your leadership and management skills.
The course includes fitness development, military training and academic study as well as practical outdoor leadership challenges.
After Initial Officer Training, you’ll follow a five-month specialist training course at Chicksands in Bedfordshire.
The course is designed to give you a thorough grounding in basic intelligence techniques and sources, including:
• intelligence agencies and their methods;
• collection and analysis of intelligence; and
• briefings and report writing.
The course also covers military equipment recognition, tactics, operations and weapons technology. When you’ve completed your specialist training, you’ll be posted to the Air Warfare Centre at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire to follow the Combat Ready Programme.
Training does not finish there.
As a Combat Ready Intelligence Officer, deployed to either a main operating base or a front-line squadron, you’ll be assessed continuously to ensure that you are maintaining the branch’s exacting standards.
Your first tour
Your first tour could see you being posted to a front-line flying station, where you’ll keep flying squadrons and senior executives aware of the latest threat assessments. You could also be posted to a headquarters to work with information from a range of sources – choosing the most relevant information and providing intelligence briefings. If you subsequently operate within Imagery Analysis, you’ll probably be posted either to the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre (DGIFC) at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire, where you’ll produce the strategic and operational intelligence reports used to formulate defence policy and support current operations, or to the Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing at RAF Marham in Norfolk, where you’ll support tactical reconnaissance squadrons on operations at home and overseas.
As an Intelligence Officer, you’ll have extensive opportunities for further professional development throughout your career.
As well as leadership training, there are courses in imagery analysis, security, weapons, targeting, electronic warfare and air operations – which you may undertake depending on the training you need to prepare for future tours.
You’ll join the RAF on either a Short Service Commission of up to 9 years, or on a Permanent Commission that will normally require a minimum of 18 years’ service.
Promotion to the rank of flight lieutenant is on a time served/satisfactory service basis.
Further promotion to squadron leader and above is by competitive selection.
The analytical and leadership skills and experience you gain throughout your career as an Intelligence Officer could equip you for a number of civilian jobs.
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