Air Operations Officer (Control) - £30,000+ after training

Royal Air Force Air Operations

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The Air Operations Branch (Control) is a diverse, exciting and complex employment area which directs and supports operations both in the UK and around the world. The three key employment areas are Terminal Air Traffic Control (providing an ATC service at an airfield), Area Control (working alongside civilian air traffic controllers at the UK’s Air Traffic Control Centre at Swanwick) and finally as a Weapons Controller (direct fast jet aircraft to intercept potentially hostile aircraft that threaten the integrity of UK Airspace). 


Using state of the art radar and communications technology you will be trained to:


  • Safely integrate military and civilian aircraft departing from and arriving at military airfields.
  • Become part of the team that order Typhoon fast-jets to scramble and intercept suspect aircraft.
  • Control fighter, bomber, surveillance, refuelling and even unmanned aircraft as they support a number of different training and operational tasks. 
  • Work alongside civilian controllers as an Area Radar controller ensuring military aircraft operate safely amongst civilian airliners in the UK’s congested airspace.
  • Provide specialist battlespace management support to both UK and multi-national exercises and operations around the world.
  • Deploy on military operations as part of the Tactical Air Traffic Control team that establishes temporary runways in austere locations in support of a number of agencies including UK Special Forces.


As an Air Operations Branch (Control) officer you could be working from a field, a bunker, a building, a tent, an E-3D aircraft or even an aircraft carrier. Regardless, you will be part of a varied and stimulating organisation which offers an excellent career and worldwide employment opportunities that is at the heart of the RAF’s flying outputs. 

Initial 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. 

Specialist Training;

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 Branch (Systems) officers and Non-Commissioned Controller (NCC) students.  Following successful completion you will be assigned to a specialist module in one of the core specialisations: Terminal (Airfield) ATC or Weapons Control. 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 including Area Radar control.

Foundation Tour;

Following successful completion of your specialist training, your first tour will last approximately 24-36 months and will be at one of the RAF’s airfields around the UK or in Cyprus, at one of our two Control and Reporting Centres (CRCs) or at the Air Traffic Control Centre. You will then consolidate your specialist training and develop post-graduate skills allowing you to achieve ‘Combat Ready’ status and become available to deploy on military operations anywhere in the world.

Your Career Prospects;

You will join the RAF on an Initial Commission of 12 years and may be selected to serve on a pension earning commission of 20 years service or 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.

Ongoing Development;

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. 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.


On-going Development

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 Branch (Control) specialisation.
  • 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.
  • Tactical ATC – high readiness small teams who deploy ahead of the main force to set up landing zones and airfields worldwide.
  • Instructing ab-initio and postgraduate students.

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 to 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 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 or 5 Scottish Certificate of Education (SCE) Standard Grades at a minimum of Grade 2, including English Language and Mathematics or 5 Scottish National Equivalent (SNE) 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 C (Grade 4 to 5 with effect from Aug 17) or Mathematics and English Language SCE Standard Grades of 2 or SNE Grade 5 for both.


  • 17.5-40 (Must have entered IOT before 41st birthday)

RAF Requirements;

To join the RAF you will also need to meet fitness, health, nationality, residency which will be discussed at your local Armed Forces Careers Office after applying. 

For more information about the role and details of our application process, visit the RAF Recruitment website. To be directed straight to our site Click 'Apply Now'.


Job will be able to applied for from 1300 GMT 3 April 2018.

Application closed

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