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Aerospace Battle Managers (ABMs) are a specialization within the RAF’s Operations Support Branch, alongside Air Traffic Control and Flight Operations. The cornerstone of the specialization is the provision of tactical air battle management to a variety of customers ranging from Air Defence fighter aircraft, to Close Air Support aircraft assisting the Army. They also work to provide tactical data directly to Army commanders on the ground, or give the Royal Navy a picture of the airspace around their carrier group. In the UK, ABMs play two roles: firstly, Air Policing within NATO Air Policing Area 1, which includes Norway and Iceland, responding to incursions by unknown aircraft and, secondly, protecting the UK and her citizens from attack by potentially hijacked aircraft. In addition, operators monitor the global ballistic missile threat and maintain a satellite watch to provide information to Special Forces and other troops in theatre.


The specialization is divided into three sub-specialisations: Surveillance (sometimes referred to as Systems), Weapons Control and Space. Surveillance officers are responsible for producing the Recognised Air Picture (RAP). A RAP is produced by identifying friendly and enemy aircraft using multiple, fused, sources of data ranging from linked military and civilian radars, both in the UK and on the continent, to intelligence and civilian Air Traffic Control information. Weapons Controllers direct air defence fighters to intercept unknown or hostile aircraft or order our fast jets and helicopters to support combat troops under fire. Space operators monitor surveillance satellites and detect, warn and track ballistic missile or rocket launches across the globe and form part of the United States’ Missile Warning System. Regardless of specialisation, your opportunities for wider employment are considerable.