As a Weapon Systems Operator you will manage the sensors and weapons of a particular aircraft during operational missions, whilst at the same time gathering intelligence and supporting forces on the ground.
Your tasks as a Weapon Systems Operator include load and cargo restraint, management of troops, operating cutting edge surveillance technology or manning the defensive weapon systems. Weapon Systems Operators play a vital role in protecting the security of the UK and our allies. Flying will be your life - whether you work in an air transport role or on-board reconnaissance aircraft. The Weapon Systems Operator roles are as follows:
- Weapon Systems Operators (ISR) is responsible for the manipulation of complex sensor suites and communications equipment to derive tactical and strategic intelligence to support the war fighter and military commanders.
- Weapon Systems Operators (Crewman/Air Loadmaster) are responsible for assisting in the operation of complex Air Mobility and Support Helicopter transport aircraft to ensure the effective delivery of their payloads to support the war fighter and military commanders.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
As a WSOp Crewman (Cmn) on the helicopter force you will be integral to a small crew that operates in demanding environments, providing direct support to battlefield operations, taking the fight to the enemy whilst having the versatility to support medical evacuation, humanitarian and peace support operations. The role is physically demanding and rewarding because you will be relied upon within your crew to have a deep knowledge of aircraft systems and tactics whilst working very closely with all units and agencies to deliver on operations.
As a WSOp Multi Engine: Air Loadmaster (ALM), you will be responsible for assisting in the safe operation of a large transport aircraft to ensure the effective delivery of freight and personnel in support of the war fighter and military commander’s intent. This can be achieved by air-land or air-drop operations requiring you to lead in preparing the safe loading, transport, dispatch and delivery of your payload to achieve mission success.
As a WSOp Multi Engine: Mission Systems Operator (MSO) you will coordinate and control air-to-air refuelling activity on Voyager, managing the safe and timely provision of fuel to fast jets and other airborne assets on operations, whilst monitoring and supporting the air picture using sophisticated communication systems.
As a WSOp (ISR) operator you will be responsible for the manipulation of complex sensor suites and communications equipment to derive tactical and strategic intelligence to support the war fighter and military commanders. The ISR specialist roles of Land (Lnd), Electronic Warfare (EW), and Acoustic (Aco), are employed across the full range of RAF ISTAR platforms, and can be expected to be employed in tasks ranging from protecting the country from maritime threats to Control of the Air and myriad tasks in between. Linguist (Lg) interpret and analyse foreign language radio transmissions, playing a vital role in protecting the security of the UK and her allies, directly providing real-time intelligence support to the battlespace.
Your career will start with the 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 will also learn about the RAF lifestyle. Following the Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC), prospective Weapon Systems Operators and Air Operations (Control) Sergeants, known within the Service as Non-Commissioned Controllers, will complete the Direct Entrant Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (DE SNCO) Course at Airmen's Command Squadron (ACS), RAF Halton. The 8-week training programme will develop the students’ knowledge of leadership within the RAF and increase their understanding of their management responsibilities as SNCOs. The course includes Air Power academic study, Practical Leadership Exercises, an Appraisal Workshop, Interview Techniques and Fitness Development.
WSOP INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE RECONNAISSANCE (ISR). If streamed (ISR) you will undergo a 12-week foundation phase at RAF Cranwell. On completion you will be streamed to Electronic Warfare (EW), Acoustics (Aco) or Land (Lnd).
WSOP (ISR) ELECTRONIC WARFARE (EW). You will complete a 23 week EW course that will include Synthetic Training and a Flying Training phase at RNAS Culdrose. On completion, you will be assigned to either RAF Waddington or RAF Lossiemouth to complete an Operational Conversion Course of up to 6 months on the aircraft to which you have been streamed. This could be the RC-135 Rivet Joint, Reaper, Sentinel, Shadow, E3D Sentry/E-7 Wedgetail or P8 Poseidon aircraft.
WSOP (ISR) ACOUSTICS (ACO). You will complete a 26 week Acoustic Analysis course that will include Synthetic Training. On completion, you will be assigned to RAF Lossiemouth to complete an Operational Conversion Course of up to 6 months on the P8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft.
WSOP (ISR) LAND (LND). You will complete a 23 week Land course that will include an Advanced Sensor phase and a Flying Training phase at RNAS Culdrose. On completion, you will be assigned to RAF Waddington to complete an Operational Conversion Course of up to 6 months on the aircraft to which you have been streamed. This could be the Shadow R1, D4K, MQ-9 Reaper/Protector or R1 Sentinel.
WSOP ROTARY WING (RW) CREWMAN. You will complete 56 weeks of training at RAF Shawbury. This will cover all aspects of the Rotary Wing Crewman role. You will learn the basics, on the EC-135 Juno helicopter before progressing to advanced crewman training on the EC-145 Jupiter helicopter. Once complete you will be streamed to either the Chinook or Puma helicopter fleets where you will be assigned to RAF Benson to complete an Operational Conversion Course of up to 6 months.
WSOP MULTI ENGINE (ME) AIR LOADMASTER. You will complete a 31 week training package at RAF Cranwell. This is split into a 5.2 week Military Aviation Ground School (MAGS) theory phase followed by a 25 week practical and flying phase where you will learn about the roles and responsibilities of a Multi Engine Air Loadmaster. On completion you will be streamed to one of the RAF’s transport platforms. You could be a Mission Systems Operator (MSO) on Voyager, monitoring air-to-air refuelling, or an Air Loadmaster on the Bae146, C17, C130 or A400M fleets. Once steamed you will complete the relevant Operational Conversion Course of up to 6 months.
FLYING FOUNDATION TOURS
For your first two tours you will generally be posted to one aircraft type in the UK. During this time, you will continue to develop your new skills and knowledge to become an expert in employing air power on a front line air system.
YOUR CAREER PROSPECTS
You will join the RAF as an airman under an initial 12 year engagement. Following several years’ service, you will be eligible to apply for an extension of service to complete a pension earning engagement of 20 years’ service or to age 40, whichever is the later. You will hold the rank of acting Sergeant during your professional training. Once you start your front-line job, and you are assessed as being capable of operating independently, you will be promoted to substantive Sergeant. Further promotion to the rank of Flight Sergeant and Master Aircrew is by selection, with commissioning opportunities to Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) available once you have proved yourself as an NCA WSOp.
As your career progresses, we will continue to train you in new skills. There are opportunities to undertake management and leadership training and you can also study for A-levels or a degree as your career develops.
As your career progresses, we will continue to train, mentor and grow your skills in leadership, instructional and specialist areas that will enable you to receive civilian accreditation as mid-level management equivalency in industry.