As an RAF Air Traffic & Weapons Controller, you could be providing an air traffic control service at an airfield, working alongside civilian air traffic controllers at the UK’s Air Traffic Control Centre at Swanwick or as a Weapons Controller directing fast jet aircraft to intercept potentially hostile aircraft.

Learn more about this role

Minimum Average Pay Over Your First Year £22,900+ + Benefits

Initial pay after training £40,076+ + Benefits

Is this for you?


  • Be aged 17.5 – 38 years old
  • 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
  • You must be a citizen of the United Kingdom or holder of dual UK/other nationality
  • Commit to a minimum of 3 years post Phase 2 Specialist Training
  • Meet the health and fitness criteria
  • Pass a Fitness test - Details below


  • Aircraft
  • Analysis and maths
  • Gaming & Computers

Apprenticeships available

Level 5 Air Traffic Controller




  • Coordinate air traffic to and from military airfields.
  • Become part of the team that order Typhoon jets to scramble and intercept suspect aircraft.
  • Control fighter, 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

The specialisation of Air Traffic & Weapons Controller is part of the Air & Space Ops Profession within the RAF, which also includes Air and Space Operations Specialists, Air Cartographers and Firefighters.

Air Traffic & Weapons Controller is a diverse, exciting and complex role which directs and supports operations both in the UK and around the world. Primarily, your job will be to control military aircraft whilst leading and managing a team of fellow Air and Space Operations specialists.

As a member of the Royal Air Force, you could find yourself operating from a field, a bunker, a building, a tent, from the back of a plane 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 output.

There are three key employment areas you could find yourself working in:

More Details +

Terminal Air Traffic Control providing Air Traffic Control services to aircraft operating at or near RAF stations around the world. As a Terminal Air Traffic Controller your role will be to:

  • Safely integrate military and civilian aircraft departing from and arriving at military airfields or delivering radar services from a Tactical Air Traffic Control Centre
  • Deploying on operations to provide terminal control to aircraft operating in and around UK or multi-national bases
  • Train to become a Tactical Air Traffic Controller as a member of a team that establishes and controls tactical landing zones in austere locations in support of multiple agencies including UK Special Forces.

Weapons Control where you’ll direct and control fast jet aircraft to intercept potentially hostile aircraft that threaten UK Airspace or in complex air-to-air exercises. As a Weapons Controller, you’ll find yourself:

  • At the forefront of UK Air Defence ensuring Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft receive all the safety and tactical information they require to reach their target as the only controller in a team of personnel
  • Controlling and managing friendly fast jet and tanker aircraft in mock air-to-air battles day to day and on a larger scale on exercises in the UK and overseas
  • Having the opportunity to carry out the same role on board the E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning aircraft, working directly alongside aircrew.

Area Control working alongside civilian air traffic controllers at the UK’s Air Traffic Control Centre at Swanwick where you will control military aircraft across the country by radar. In this role, you’ll find yourself:

  • Safely deconflicting military and civil aircraft as they transit to and from their destinations/operating areas
  • Operating in conjunction with both Terminal Air Traffic Controllers and Weapons Controllers to get aircraft in the air and into exercises areas amongst extremely high levels of air traffic
  • Providing Air Traffic Services to QRA aircraft as they transit over the UK mainland in close cooperation with Weapons Controllers.

Whichever employment area you end up in, as an Air Traffic & Weapons Controller you will carry out your primary role in addition to having line management responsibilities that will increase as your career progresses, initially managing and supervising small teams.


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



As a direct entrant Air Traffic & Weapons Controller, your career will start with a 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 service life.

Following the Basic Recruit Training Course, prospective Sergeants will complete the Direct Entrant Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (DE SNCO) Course at the Aviator Command Squadron (ACS) at RAF Halton. This 8-week training programme will develop the student's knowledge of leadership within the RAF and increase their understanding of their management responsibilities as Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs). The course includes Air Power academic study, Practical Leadership Exercises, an Appraisal Workshop, Interview Techniques and Fitness Development. At the end of the course, students are promoted to Acting Sergeant.


Specialist training is delivered at the Defence College of Air and Space Operations at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire and subsequently for Weapons Controllers at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland.

This training starts with a a Foundation Module and is completed alongside Air Operations (Systems) Officers, Air Ops (Control) Officers and Air Traffic & Weapons Controllers. Following successful completion, you will be assigned to a specialist module in one of the core specialisations: Terminal (Airfield) ATC or Weapons Control. Prospective Weapons Controllers will carry out the last part of their training at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland.

You could return at a later date to complete a short conversion course to allow you to undertake roles in the other core areas including Area Radar control.

More Details +


Following successful completion of your specialist training, your first tour will last approximately 3-5 years and where you go will depend on your specialisation. Terminal Air Traffic Controllers will go to one of the RAF's airfields around the UK or in Cyprus, whilst Area Controllers are employed at RAF(U) Swanwick and Weapons Controllers at RAF Boulmer. Once fully qualified in your chosen employment area, you will become available to deploy on military operations anywhere in the world.

As a Sergeant, your leadership and management skills will be continually developed alongside your specialist knowledge. By the end of your first tour, you will be an experienced controller ready to take on your next role.


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

• As Mission Crew on board the E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning aircraft
• Part of the UK’s deployable ground-based command and control squadron, operating from RAF Boulmer
• As a Fighter Allocator, supervising a team of Weapons Controllers of all ranks
• One of the other controller employment areas
• Instructing and mentoring new officer cadets at RAF Leadership College Cranwell or new recruits at RAF Halton, or even new controllers at RAF Shawbury / RAF Boulmer.


You will join the RAF as an aviator under an initial 12 year engagement. Following 4 years' service, you will be eligible to apply for an extension of service to complete a Pension Earning Engagement of 20 years' service or age 40, whichever is the later, during this time.

Entering as a direct entrant Sergeant, competitive promotion to Flight Sergeant is the next step in your career along with more supervisory controlling related roles. As an Air Traffic & Weapons Controller, you will spend most of your career carrying out your primary role as a controller, becoming a subject matter expert, heavily relied upon by your unit.

Throughout your career you may be selected for advancement to intermediate line management roles, responsible for supervising and guiding the Specialists within your team and ensuring their welfare and career management needs are met. You should expect operational deployments of up to 6 months to a range of locations worldwide, in addition to ad-hoc shorter detachments to locations such as Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Lithuania, Japan, Gibraltar, Canada, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and the USA.


As an Air Traffic & Weapons Controller, you will obtain a range of transferable skills including advanced leadership (CMI Accredited), change and project management and the opportunity for further academic development. These skills and your experience could equip you for a variety of civilian jobs that involve dynamic supervisory or management responsibilities, such as working within the transportation division of the Public Sector or within an emergency response control centre. Your experience in high pressure situations would make you an ideal candidate for operations management roles as a civilian.

Professions in the RAF are distinct areas of defence expertise where common skills and attributes are required to deliver on demand. Service Personnel may be employed in any of the specialisations within their Profession depending upon the Service need, but we’ll take into account the aptitude, qualifications and career aspirations of our personnel.



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.



Be a citizen of the United Kingdom or holder of dual UK/other nationality.

Be aged 17.5 – 38 years old


Have these minimum grades:

Mathematics C Grade 4 Grade 5
English Language C Grade 4 Grade 5
3 Other subjects C Grade 4 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.


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 at least two separate fitness tests as part of the application process.

The first of these is the Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT) which takes place at a fitness centre local to you. This consists of the following:

  • 2.4km (1.5m) run on a treadmill (set to zero incline)
  • Achieve the required number of press-ups - within 60 seconds
  • Achieve the required number of sit-ups - within 60 seconds

The second fitness test will take place at RAF Halton as part of your three-day Pre-Recruit Familiarization Visit (PRFV). This consists of the following:

  • Achieving the required score on the Multi-Stage Fitness Test (MSFT or Bleep test)
  • Achieve the required number of press-ups - within 60 seconds
  • Achieve the required number of sit-ups - within 60 seconds

How fit you need to be to pass these tests can vary depending on role, age and gender. The requirements are listed on the charts below (Men and Women).

MEN - 100% pass rates:
AGE 2.4 Km Run Multi-Stage Fitness Test Press-ups Sit-ups
  (Mins) (Score) (No.) (No.)
15-16 11.39 9.03 20 35
17-29 11.11 9.10 20 35
30-34 11.36 9.04 19 32
35-39 12 8.09 18 29
40-44 12.26 8.03 17 26
45-47 12.54 7.07 16 23


WOMEN - 100% pass rates:
AGE 2.4 Km Run Multi-Stage Fitness Test Press-ups Sit-ups
  (Mins) (Score) (No.) (No.)
15-16 13.54 6.07 10 32
17-29 13.23 7.02 10 32
30-34 13.47 6.08 9 29
35-39 14.13 6.04 8 26
40-44 14.48 5.08 7 23
45-47 15.19 5.04 6 20

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

PJFT/PRFV 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 PRFV Fitness Test here:

RAF PRFV 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:
Age Male and female minimum Male and female maximum Male maximum with additional assessment Female maximum with additional assessment
18 + 18 28 32 30
16 to < 18 17 27 27 27
  • 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