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.
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.
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.
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.
You will need a minimum of 5 GCSEs (or acceptable equivalents) at a minimum of Grade C (Grade 4 to 5 with effect from Aug 17), including English Language, and Mathematics, Scottish Certificate of Education (SCE) Standard Grades; 5 at a minimum of Grade 2, including English Language and Mathematics or 5 Scottish National Equivalent (SNE) Grades at a minimum of Grade 5 including English Language and Mathematics.
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 or Mathematics and English Language SCE Standard Grades of 1 and 2 respectively or SNE Grade 5 for both.
- 17½ - 31 (Must have entered IOT before 31st birthday)
To join the RAF you will need to meet the fitness, health, nationality, residency and other criteria detailed below.