Air operations support Air Operations (Systems) Officer CURRENTLY RECRUITING

As an Air Operations Systems officer you could be working from a field, a bunker, a building, a tent, an E-3D aircraft or even on an aircraft carrier.

Learn more about this role

Pay During Initial Officer Training £27,200+ + Benefits

Initial pay after training £31,800+ + Benefits

Is this for you?


  • Be aged 17.5 – 47 years old (Must attest before 48th birthday)
  • Have GCSE at Grade C/4-5 or SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 in English Language, Maths and three other subjects
  • Have at least 2 A2 Levels/3 Highers at Grade C or above (excluding General Studies or Critical Thinking) which must total a minimum of 64 UCAS points. Or hold a UK degree at Grade 2:2 or higher (or acceptable alternative)
  • You must be a citizen of the United Kingdom or holder of dual UK/other nationality and have resided in the UK for at least the last 5 years
  • Commit to minimum 12 years service
  • Meet the health and fitness criteria
  • Pass a General Fitness Test


  • Analysis and maths
  • Aircraft
  • Gaming & Computers




  • Monitoring foreign surveillance satellites and highlighting potential enemy action and espionage.
  • Tracking everything happening in space from space debris to the International Space Station.
  • Form part of the team that operates the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, detecting and reporting any object that could threaten the UK or our allies.
  • Providing vital information to a number of civilian and military organisations that rely on Space surveillance.
  • Process flight data information and monitor the flight progress of all military flying across the globe.
  • Form part of the team that provides the Army and other Services with air situational awareness
  • Running airfield operations in the central ops room making sure that all flying programmes run smoothly and on time, planning logistics in advance
  • Task planning and coordination of the squadron to make sure operations run smoothly i.e. making sure Typhoons can refuel over the North Sea
  • Diplomatic negotiation with foreign partners for access to international airspace
  • HQ planning: Responsible for coordinating all UK armed forces to plan in advance overseas deployment

As an RAF Air Operations Systems Officer, you could be working within the Aerospace Surveillance, Space Operations or Airfield Operations areas. Officers within this role will use sophisticated radar and communications technology to inform operational and time-critical decisions that underpin the operational support of the RAF.


Thanks to subsidised food, travel, accommodation and free gym you get more money in your pocket.

Benefits Salary
Civilian Role
RAF Role
  • Rent from £75p/m
  • Free gym
  • Subsidised food
  • Health care
  • World travel
  • 6 weeks holiday

See All Benefits



Your career will start by completing the Initial Officer Training Course at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire. You will complete a challenging 24-week course designed to develop your strength, fitness, leadership and academic skills through a number of indoor and outdoor exercises across the UK.


Specialist training is delivered at the Defence College of Airspace Control which is split between RAF Shawbury in Shropshire and RAF Boulmer in Northumberland. This training starts with a Foundation Module and is completed alongside the Air Operations (Control) officers and Non-Commissioned (NCC) Controller students. After this you will be assigned to one of the three core specialisations, Aerospace Surveillance, Space or Airfield Operations and you will complete the appropriate training module for your first role. You will be able to return at a later date to complete a short conversion course to allow you to undertake roles in any of the other core areas.

More details +


Your first tour will last approximately 24 months and could be at one of our two Control and Reporting Centres (CRCs), which are located at RAF Boulmer and at RAF Scampton; one of the many RAF airfields around the UK or for space roles at RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire or RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. You will consolidate your specialist training and develop post-graduate skills allowing you to achieve ‘Combat Ready’ status and deploy on operations.


Subsequent tours of duty may see you being employed in a wide variety of areas, including:

  • One of the other areas of the Air Operations (Systems) specialisation.
  • Planning missions for the RAF’s varied aircraft and systems
  • Co-ordinating and managing transport aircraft schedules
  • Form part of the 3 person Mobile Air Ops Team (MAOT) providing radio communications and Support Helicopter support to forward Battle Groups and other agencies.
  • As ‘Mission Crew’ on the E-3D ‘Sentry’ Airborne Early Warning aircraft based at RAF Waddington.
  • Part of the UK’s deployable, ground based, command and control unit ‘Number 1 Air Control Centre’ located at RAF Scampton.
  • Instructing ab initio and postgraduate students
  • As a Ballistic Missile Early Warning’ Space Operator at RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire or the UK Space Operations Centre at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.

You may also be selected for advancement to higher management roles, responsible for leading large teams of fellow officers and airmen. Throughout your career, you should expect operational deployments (generally of up but not limited to 6 months duration) to a range of locations worldwide, together with ad-hoc shorter detachments to such locations as Cyprus, Lithuania, Gibraltar, Canada, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and the US.  The RAF also has a variety of exchange opportunities which include instructing the US Marine Corps in Arizona; the US Air Force Space Command in Colorado and the Royal Norwegian Air Force.


You will join the RAF on an initial commission of 12 years and may be selected to continue your service on a pension earning commission of 20 years’ service or to age 40, whichever is the later; during this time. Promotion to the rank of Flight Lieutenant is on a time served/satisfactory service basis after 3½ years from completing IOT. Further promotion to Squadron Leader and above is by competitive selection.


As an Air Operations (Systems) Officer, you will obtain numerous transferable skills including advanced leadership (CMI Accredited), change and project management and the opportunity for further academic development. Opportunities for closer alignment to the civilian equivalent of airfield operations are being continually assessed.


Opportunities exist to visit an RAF unit where you will be able to meet serving Air Operations (Systems) Officers and learn more about the Branch and the various roles you could find yourself employed in. These visits are called Realistic Job Previews, for which on-site accommodation and funding is available. These visits will be offered to you by Armed Forces careers staff as you progress through the application process.



Your training will start with a Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) consisting of 4 weekends at your chosen RAF Reserves Squadron, followed by a 15 day residential training course at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. This training course will prepare you for service life in one of the most respected military forces in the world; it is also designed to help you tune into the military environment and way of life. As well as military training, you will learn about the core values, code of conduct and history of the RAF, as well as its unique lifestyle.


After successfully completing initial training, you will be trained for your specific role in the RAF either at your squadron or another RAF station in the UK.

Commitment and location

You will have to commit to 27 days per year for 12 years minimum.

Each year includes a 15-day block for general RAF training, and 12 separate days for extra training or exercises.

You might be deployed to a UK or overseas base for up to 6 months after the first year.



You must be a citizen of the United Kingdom or holder of dual UK/other nationality and have resided in the UK for at least the last 5 years.

Be aged 17.5 – 47 years old (Must attest before 48th birthday)


Have these minimum grades:

MathematicsCGrade 4Grade 5
English LanguageCGrade 4Grade 5
Three Other SubjectsCGrade 4Grade 5

In addition, you need at least 2 A2 Levels/3 Highers at Grade C or above (excluding General Studies or Critical Thinking) which must total a minimum of 64 UCAS points.

Or, if you hold a UK degree at Grade 2:2 or higher (or acceptable alternative), you only need Mathematics and English Language GCSEs at a minimum of Grade C (Grade 4 to 5 with effect from Aug 17) or Mathematics and English Language SCE Standard Grades of 2 or SNE Grade 5.

You can see what the RAF accepts in lieu of GCSEs & A Levels here


You must be a citizen of the United Kingdom or holder of dual UK/other nationality.

Whether or not you were born in the United Kingdom, you should have resided there for the 5 years immediately preceding your application. However, candidates with a minimum of 3 years will be considered.

Following the MOD announcement that the UK Armed Forces will now be able to recruit commonwealth citizens without the 5 year residency requirement, please note that the RAF continues to apply standard residency requirements for security clearance,  ie, DV employment requires 7-years UK residency immediately prior to enlistment; SC requires 3-years.


You must be physically fit to complete both initial and specialist training, and to do your role effectively. To check your fitness levels, we put every candidate through two or three separate fitness tests as part of the application process: Selection Fitness Test, Pre-joining Fitness Test or Pre-recruit Training Course.
How fit you need to be to pass these tests can vary depending on role, age and gender.

MALES - 100% pass rates:
AGE2.4 Km RunMulti-Stage Fitness TestPress-upsSit-ups

FEMALES - 100% pass rates:
AGE2.4 Km RunMulti-Stage Fitness TestPress-upsSit-ups

You can see the protocols for Press Ups & Sit Ups here:

PJFT/PRTC Protocols

You can download an MP3 file of the Multi-Stage Fitness Test below, listen to the introduction file first:


RAF MSFT: Bleep Test

You can see a video demonstration of the PRTC Fitness Test here:

RAF Fitness Test

A 12-week fitness plan with detailed information to help you get ready for all of the fitness tests can be downloaded here.



There are health requirements that must be met by all applicants:

  • Body Mass Index requirements:
AgeMale and female minimumMale and female maximumMale maximum with additional assessmentFemale maximum with additional assessment
18 +18283230
16 to < 1817272727
  • Eyesight requirements vary for different roles. A requirement to wear glasses or contact lenses may be allowed for aircrew.

Get in touch if you have any questions about the health criteria, or would like to find out if any additional health requirements apply to your role of interest.


The Medical Risk Assessment that all candidates undergo is there to make sure that you are healthy enough for the intense training required by the RAF. Your application will be rejected if you fail to meet the minimum acceptable medical standard for entry. Your medical history is confidential and is not disclosed to those not authorised to hold this information.



  • Declare any previous spent and unspent convictions
  • Check if you qualify under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 through this summary
  • Have a basic background check to get Security Check level clearance



  • Have been or are a member of a group that stirs up racial hatred and violence
  • Are waiting to appear in court, or have unspent convictions. You may also have to declare spent convictions for certain roles
  • Misuse drugs, solvents and anabolic steroids. But each case is considered upon its own merits
  • Have tattoos, brands or bead implants that are obscene or offensive. 
    Any permanent or temporary tattoos, whether ordinarily visible or not, must not be obscene or offensive (eg, racist, anti-religion or belief, crude, overtly sexist, homophobic, drug related or of an extreme political nature). Tattoos may be worn on the side and back of the neck but tattoos on the back of the neck must not extend above the natural hairline (scalp tattoos are not permitted). In addition, tattoos must not be visible below the sleeve cuff while wearing uniform, although a single finger (not thumb) tattoo that could be covered by a ring may be permitted
  • Have body piercing which causes holes that do not close up
  • Declare yourself to be an 'undischarged' bankrupt

Beard Policy: A revised facial hair policy has been agreed by the Air Force Board which will allow serving personnel to wear a smart, neatly-trimmed, full-set beard whilst maintaining high standards of appearance. The length of acceptable beards is between Grade 1 (2.5mm) and Grade 8 (25.5mm). The wearing of beards during Phase 1 and Phase 2 training is currently under consideration and details will be advised when available

If you don’t have any of the above, you might still be able to apply. For more information contact your local AFCO.


Apply here and receive an email that invites you to your full online application.

Apply as a Regular