burger-style menu icon
Aircraft Analysis & maths Gaming & computers
+ Benefits
+ Benefits
+ Benefits

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.

Already applied? See what the next steps are >

What will you do?

You are at the heart of the RAFs flying output, responsible for directing and supporting operations both in the UK and around the world. You will control military aircraft whilst leading and managing a team of fellow Air and Space Operations Specialists. In your role you will:


  • 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 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 agencies including UK Special Forces
white play-video button large icon
Becoming an Air Traffic & Weapons Controller
Discover more about Harry’s journey, his role responsibilities, and the travel opportunities he’s had since joining the force.
Minimum Education Requirement
  • Have GCSEs at Grade C/4 or Scottish National 5 at Grade C in English Language, Mathematics and at least three other subjects.
  • Be aged 17 and-a-half years old – 38 years old (Must attest before 39th birthday)
  • You must be a citizen of the United Kingdom or holder of dual UK/other nationality
  • Commit minimum 3 years post Phase Two Training
  • Meet the health and fitness criteria
  • Pass a Fitness test - Detail below


View all entry requirements >

Apprenticeships available
The RAF is one of the largest providers of diverse apprenticeships in the UK. We offer these apprenticeships for this role:
Level 5 Air Traffic Controller
The UK manages one of the busiest and most complex pieces of airspace in the world. A range of specialist air traffic controller roles contribute to the safe and efficient movement of aircraft with civil and military operations working collaboratively to maintain a fully integrated service to all users, 24 hours a day, every day of the year
View full details up-arrow icon indicating link opens in new window
At any level or position your personal success is vital to make us succeed too. We are dedicated to your future, as it is essential to ours. You will receive basic and specialist training in your field and we even provide the option to pay for your education. The experience you gain with the RAF will equip you to work at the top of your field, both in the UK and overseas.
Phase one training
Basic Recruit training
white stopwatch icon for duration 10 weeks
white map-pin icon for location RAF Halton
Your career will start with the Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire.
Phase one training
Direct entry Sergeants training
white stopwatch icon for duration 8 weeks
white map-pin icon for location RAF Halton
Following Basic Recruit Training, you will complete the Direct Entrant Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (DE SNCO) Course.
Phase two training
Specialist training
white stopwatch icon for duration 28/30 weeks
white map-pin icon for location RAF Shawbury
You will be based at one of the RAF’s airfields around the UK or in Cyprus, at one of our two Control and Reporting Centres or at the Air Traffic Control Centre.
First tour
Specialist training
white stopwatch icon for duration 3-5 years
white map-pin icon for location As assigned
Following successful completion of your specialist training, where you go will depend on your specialisation.
Your career prospects
Ongoing development
white stopwatch icon for duration Ongoing
white map-pin icon for location As assigned
You will join the RAF as an aviator under an initial 12 year engagement.
Foundation Degree
Ongoing education
white stopwatch icon for duration
white map-pin icon for location As assigned
Successful completion of the Air Traffic Controllers Course and requisite workplace training will mean eligibility for the brand-new Air Space Management Foundation Degree.
 white arrow small icon
Continued development
Ongoing training
white stopwatch icon for duration Ongoing
white map-pin icon for location As assigned
Subsequent tours of duty may see you being employed in a wide variety of areas including:
Transferable skills
Accredited training
white stopwatch icon for duration Ongoing
white map-pin icon for location As assigned
Much of our in-house training is accredited and/or recognised by external awarding bodies.
white left arrow large icon
white right arrow large icon

Thanks to subsidised food, travel, accommodation and free gym you get more money in your pocket.

bar chart depicting difference in benefits value and salary vs civilian recruiter
Benefits icon for Rent from £75p/m
Rent from £75p/m
Benefits icon for Free gym
Free gym
Benefits icon for Subsidised food
Subsidised food
Benefits icon for Health care
Health care
Benefits icon for World travel
World travel
Benefits icon for Training
Joining the RAF takes several steps. Below is an overview of the process. The purpose of this process is for us to gauge whether you’re the right person for the RAF and for you to show us all of your skills and experiences that have made you who you are.
Aptitude test
AFCO Interview
Health Assessment
Fitness Test
Aptitude test
Stage 1 of 6

The first step in the application process is a series of Computer Based Aptitude Tests (CBAT). These tests ensure we match the right candidate to the right role. They take place over one day at the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire, and measure your ability to perform specific tasks such as:

  • How well you respond physically to visual information
  • Your ability to interpret information in two dimensions and devise a three-dimensional solution
  • Your ability to complete several tasks simultaneously
  • Your natural abilities, including deductive reasoning, spatial reasoning, work rate and concentration, and verbal and numerical reasoning
AFCO Interview
Stage 2 of 6

Selection interviews help us get to know you a little better – and vice versa. You’ll get to show your skills and experience, and we’ll answer any questions you have about joining the RAF.


The first of these interviews happens at a local AFCO and covers the following topics:

  • Family life
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Special interests or hobbies
  • Interest in the RAF
RAF Physical Training Instructor running Battle PT session
Health Assessment
Stage 3 of 6

You’re legally required to meet certain medical standards, and must pass an occupational health assessment to show you’re fit for military duty. As part of this assessment we will check your overall health, focusing on areas like hearing, eyesight and body mass index.


We’ll also investigate any past illnesses and screen for health issues that may prevent you from carrying out your role. View details below for more information about the health standards you’ll need to meet.

Fitness Test
Stage 4 of 6

A good level of fitness is critical to joining the RAF, it’s also something that must be maintained throughout your career. You’ll need to complete a Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFC). This will take place at a local gym near to you, and includes a 2.4km run, push up test and a sit-up test.


Please refer to the entry requirements below for more information about the health standards you’ll need to meet. You can also find help, and a training plan, to assist you in your preparation here.

Stage 5 of 6

This will be your second visit to the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre. OASC lasts one day, but you will arrive the day before. During this time the officers will be assessing your leadership, teamwork, communication, motivation, and problem solving.


The day will end with an interview. The first half of the interview covers your achievements at school and college, in sports, your community, at work, and as a cadet, scout or guide.

The second half explores your motivation for joining the RAF – what you know about current affairs and the RAF’s role in the national and international arena, current operations the RAF is involved in and your knowledge about the RAF and the role you've applied for.

Stage 6 of 6

BRTC and officer staff training

The Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) has been designed to set commissioning officers up for their career in the RAF with the right skills and knowledge. This training will provide a solid platform for your continued development.
Visit our Cranwell training page for more information about BRTC and the rest of officer training.


You must be aged 17.5 – 38 years old

Applicants must also read all of the sections below and make sure they meet all entry requirements before submitting an application. 


Have these minimum grades:

  GCSE pre 2017 GCSE 2017 and after Scottish National 5
Mathematics C Grade 4 C
English Language C Grade 4 C
3 Other subjects C Grade 4 C

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, but candidates with a minimum of 3 years may be considered.

If you have resided abroad for a period due to work or study, you may still be eligible on a case by case basis. 


You must be physically fit to complete both initial and specialist training, and to do your role effectively.

As part of the application process you will need to do 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

How fit you need to be to pass this test can vary depending on role, age and gender. The requirements are listed on the charts below (Male and Female).

AGE 2.4 Km Run Press-ups Sit-ups
  (Mins) (No.) (No.)
15-16 12.39 20 35
17-29 12.11 20 35
30-34 12.36 19 32
35-39 13.02 18 29
40-44 13.30 17 26
45-49 14.00 16 23
50-54 14.34 15 20


AGE 2.4 Km Run Press-ups Sit-ups
  (Mins) (No.) (No.)
15-16 14.59 10 32
17-29 14.30 10 32
30-34 14.55 9 29
35-39 15.21 8 26
40-44 15.58 7 23
45-49 16.32 6 20
50-54 17.06 5 17

See here for more information about the test and a training plan


Candidates joining the RAF must be medically fully fit, both physically and psychologically, to meet the challenges of military service, during which they will be expected to deploy, potentially at short notice, to locations world-wide that are remote from established medical care. 


Certain medical conditions could preclude entry to the RAF. Further details can be found in this document. 

Before your application, please note that Body Mass Index Requirements are as follows: 

Age Male and female minimum Male and female maximum Male maximum with additional assessment Female maximum with additional assessment
18 + 18 30 32 32
16 to < 18 17 27 27 27

Calculate your BMI here 


Eyesight requirements vary for different roles. A requirement to wear glasses or contact lenses may be allowed for aircrew. 
If you are unsure about any health criteria, please continue your application and your eligibility will be assessed at the medical examination stage.  


During your application, 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). 
  • 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 please contact us.

Got what it takes? Start your application here.
RAF Air Traffic and Weapons Controller wearing headset operating control equipment