Weapon Systems Officer

P-8A Poseidon, E-3D Sentry, RC-135W Rivet Joint, Sentinel R1, Shadow R1, MQ-9 Reaper and Protector CPB all require Weapons Systems Officers (WSOs). The roles of our WSOs are as varied as our aircraft with the field of Intelligence, Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) offering the most opportunities. You will be streamed to an aircraft type and role according to operational requirements and your ability. You will then specialise in that aircraft type for the initial part of your career. As a WSO in the ISTAR fleet, your primary role could be to manage the complex sensors and weapons during operational missions whilst gathering intelligence and supporting forces on the ground. You could also be managing a mission crew of highly capable Weapon System Operators (WSOps). In a multi-engine maritime reconnaissance aircraft, you would track submarines or enemy ships, provide long-range search-and-rescue or operate overland in support of combat operations. With experience, you may become an instructor and train other RAF aircrew.

RAF Regulars and Reserves work side by side.

Scroll down to explore the opportunities as a Weapon Systems Officer in the RAF.

Key Facts

Full Time Regular

Full Time Regular

Initial pay after training

£30,616 + Benefits

Pay during training

£25,727 + Benefits

Entry level



Usual service - 12 years


Full Time Regular

Full Time Regular

Initial Officer Training

Like all our officers, you will begin your RAF career with Initial Officer Training (IOT) at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire.  You will follow a challenging 24-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. You can find out more information about IOT in this publication.

Specialist Training

Your specialist training would begin with a one-week course at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire to learn how the human body reacts to the airborne environment.  You would then have a comprehensive academic package covering aircraft and mission systems as well as aviation related subjects to prepare you for basic flying training.  This training over the next 6-8 months will be a combination of live flying, utilising the Avenger aircraft at RNAS Culdrose, and simulators to demonstrate proficiency in managing an array of aircraft systems.  You would then progress to an Operational Conversion Course of up to 6 months on the aircraft to which you have been assigned.

Your First Tour

For your first tour you would be posted to a flying station where your specialist aircraft type is based.  You would carry out an operational and training role which may include frequent overseas detachments and which will test your training and your aircraft in what may be hostile conditions.  There will be other more experienced WSOs there to whom you can turn for advice and support but they will be relying on you as a full team member of a front-line squadron.

Your Career Prospects

You will join the RAF on an Initial Commission of 12 years and will be selected to serve on a pension earning commission of 20 years’ service or to age 40, whichever is the later, on completion of your first Operational Conversion course.  Promotion to the rank of Flight Lieutenant is on a time served/satisfactory service basis 3½ years after completing IOT.  Further promotion to Squadron Leader and above is by competitive selection.

Ongoing Development

As a WSO, you will have opportunities for further professional development throughout your career.  As well as training to fly different aircraft at Operational Conversion Units, there are opportunities for structured command and staff training as your career progresses.

Transferable Skills

The skills and experience you would gain throughout your career as a WSO could directly equip you for a number of civilian jobs, including: ROV Sensor Operator; project manager, aviation instructor, aerial or maritime surveyor etc.


Full Time Regular

Full Time Regular



You need:

GCSE at Grade C/4-5 or above in English Language
GCSE at Grade C/4-5 or above in Maths
GCSEs at Grade C/4-5 or above in three other subjects.


SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 (Grades A-C) in English Language
SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 (Grades A-C) in Maths
SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 (Grades A-C) in three other subjects

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. 

Alternatively, 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/4-5 or Mathematics and English Language SCE Standard Grades of 2 or SNE Grade 5 (A-C).


  • 17½ - 31 (Must have entered IOT before 31st birthday)

RAF Requirements

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


Regretfully this position is currently closed for full time applications. Please register your interest so we can contact you when it re opens. Alternatively you can check out these similar roles:

Full Time Regular

Full Time Regular