RAF Air Traffic & Weapons Controller – Full Time Career with Apprenticeship

Royal Air Force

Apprenticeship summary

A unique opportunity to complete an apprenticeship as a RAF Air Traffic & Weapons Controller, with an Ofsted outstanding training provider. You’ll be working with some of the most advanced technology and aircraft in the world and play a key part in the UKs defence. With over 50 places available across the year, Apply today!

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Closing date: August 1, 2024

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Total hours per week:
Expected duration (weeks):
Positions (available):
Date posted:
April 12, 2024
Possible start date:
September 1, 2024
Apprenticeship level:


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:

  • Terminal Air Traffic Control providing Air Traffic Control services to aircraft operating at or near RAF stations around the world
  • 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
  • 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

You will be able to set preferences for the location and type of employment you would like to undertake and there is also the opportunity to undertake roles outside of your specialisation.

Within your first few years, you will get the opportunity to deploy overseas in support of the RAF’s mission.

Level 5 Air Traffic Controller

On successful completion of the application and selection process, your apprenticeship 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’ll also learn about the RAF lifestyle.

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 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.

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.


Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force work with our UK and international partners to watch the skies, respond to threats, prevent conflict, and provide assistance in an uncertain world. We provide all personnel with a varied range of training and activities to make sure you're ready for anything. A career in the Royal Air Force will provide you with a whole host of possibilities. You will receive world class training, allowing you to learn and develop throughout your career. We recruit throughout the year, so please ignore the closing and start dates.


Training Provider:


Apprenticeship standard:

Air traffic controller (level 5)