Air operations support

Aerospace Systems Operator

As an Aerospace Systems Operator, you are the eyes and ears of the RAF – the first line of defence for the UK at home and our Armed Forces abroad. You’ll manage some of the world’s most sophisticated sensors, communications and computer information systems to search the skies for potential threats.

You could be part of a team controlling offensive, defensive and combat support aircraft to intercept and, if necessary, destroy hostile or rogue aircraft. Or you could be disseminating information to the Royal Navy, the Army or other countries’ armed forces. You could also be part of a team that’s on standby to go anywhere in the world to support aircrew and ground troops. You may also find yourself working on the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, where you’ll watch for missile launches around the world, track objects in space and provide support to the United States Space Network. Or possibly at the Electronic Warfare range, RAF Spadeadam, where you support the Electronic Warfare training given to UK and NATO aircrews.

Like most servicemen in the RAF, you’ll probably move jobs every few years, and each job is known as a tour. Aerospace Systems Operators normally work in one of the Control and Reporting Centres, on our mobile Air Command and Control Centre, or in roles providing support to operations overseas. You could also be tasked to work alongside military colleagues in the Army providing them with an understanding and awareness of the air environment above and around them.

For those who possess the required aptitude and complete the required training, the opportunity exists to qualify as a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) Weapon Controller (WC), which attracts advancement in rank to sergeant. Later in your career, depending on your qualifications, there is also the potential to work on board the Sentry E-3D aircraft, based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

RAF Regulars and Reserves work side by side.

Scroll down to explore the opportunities as an Aerospace Systems Operator in the RAF.

In the RAF

My Role

For detailed information about the different roles available as an Aerospace Systems Operator please open one of the following documents:

ASOp Career Path
My Role - 1ACC
My Role - 8 Sqn Surveillance Operator
My Role - 54 Sqn Sim Pilot
My Role - CRC Boulmer
My Role - Fylingdales
My Role - Mission Briefing Assistant
My Role - Threat Delivery Flight

My Day

‘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


Full Time Regular

Full Time Regular

Initial Training

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.

Specialist Training

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
• Meteorology
• 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.

Transferable Skills

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.


Full Time Regular

Full Time Regular



You need:
GCSE at Grade C/4-5 or equivalent in English Language
GCSE at Grade C/4-5 or equivalent in Maths
SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 in English
SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 in Maths


  • 16-40

RAF Requirements

To join the RAF you will also need to meet fitness, health, nationality, residency, and other criteria detailed below.

Be Prepared



Register your interest for Regular service, and apprenticeships. Use the link below or call the Regular information line.

Full Time Regular

Full Time Regular