In the RAF
For detailed information about the different roles available as an Aerospace Systems Operator please open one of the following documents:
‘My current duty is in the intelligence cell. We look at different aircraft through the radar, and note what is going on in countries where we might be deployed. Basically, our job is to provide a picture of what’s going on in the skies.
We’re on 72-hour standby, so I could be sent anywhere, at short notice. I could be ready for operations in two days’ time if I was needed.’
Emma, Aerospace System Operator
Your career will start with a 10 week Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. The course is designed to help you adjust to a military environment. As well as fitness and military training, you’ll also learn about the RAF lifestyle.
The next step is a specialist training course, which lasts up to 15 weeks at the School of Aerospace Battle Management (SABM) at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland. Here you’ll learn about:
• The interpretation and operation of complex sensor systems
• Data Links and communication networks; how they work and how we use them to communicate with aircraft, ships and ground stations
• Space Surveillance
• Maritime operations
• A foundation in air battle management
• The capabilities of aircraft currently operated by the RAF and its allies.
• Training and examination in a live operational environment.
You will also be trained to operate alongside Weapon Controllers and Surveillance Officers from the Air Battlespace Management (ABM) Branch. During this course you will be given the opportunity to undertake a Functional Skills qualification in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at level 2 and an Information Technology Qualification (ITQ) level 3 Diploma. You’ll then get your first posting.
Additional Qualification Opportunities
During this course you will be given the opportunity to undertake an Advanced ‘IT Application Specialist’ Apprenticeship consisting of Functional Skills in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at level 2 and a Level 3 Diploma in IT User Skills. The Apprenticeship will take a minimum of 12 months and will be completed at your first posting.
Ongoing Training/Development Opportunities
As your skills, experience and time in service grow, you could become an Aerospace Systems Manager, working in the management of personnel, systems and information.
Your First Tour
Your first tour will normally be at a Control and Reporting Centre at RAF Boulmer or RAF Scampton. Opportunities also exist for employment within the School of Air Battle Management RAF Boulmer. Your role will involve the collation, processing and dissemination of information on activity in the airspace that your unit has responsibility for. You’ll use communication equipment to provide updates on air activity and interpret sensor or data link information to aid in the identification of aircraft and support the provision of an air picture.
Your Future Career Prospects/Progression
You will initially join the RAF for a period of twelve years on a Notice Engagement. After completing one year’s total service you will be eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman, providing you pass a Trade Ability Test and Basic Trade Training. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection.
The Advanced Apprenticeship you can earn is as valuable in the civilian world as it is in the RAF – which means that whenever you decide to leave the RAF, you’ll be well placed to find civilian employment.
You need GCSEs at Grade C (Grade 4 to 5 with effect from Aug 17) or equivalent in English Language and Mathematics or SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 in English and Mathematics.
All RAF ground trade recruits (except Air Traffic Controller – Senior Non-Commissioned Officer) must have or gain Functional Skills (FS) qualifications in English and Mathematics to graduate from Recruit Training. Your first chance to pass these tests, if you don’t already have the necessary FS grades, will be at the Pre-Recruit Training Course. The level of FS qualifications you need to achieve depend on the trade you are applying for; as, Aerospace Systems Operator, you will need to pass the Level 2 FS tests in Mathematics and English.
To join the RAF you will also need to meet fitness, health, nationality, residency, and other criteria detailed below.