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Selection Training

After Initial Officer Training at RAF Cranwell, you will commence the six-week Aerospace Battle Management Foundation Course (ABMFC) at the School of Aerospace Battle Management (SABM) at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland in order to assess your aptitude for the Specialization. At the SABM you will learn the basics of air warfare. The aptitudes for ABM and, within that, Weapons, Surveillance or Space are each different. Your selection will be based on that aptitude alone. The only way to find out if you have the aptitude is to do the foundation course! If you don’t have this specific aptitude, this is not the end of your career in the RAF. Historically, those people not selected for training have gone on to complete successful, fulfilling careers in other areas of the RAF. At the end of the foundation course, you will be selected for Weapons, Surveillance or Space operations and will then progress to specialist training. The current overall success rate for applicants completing all their training and getting into productive service with the ABM specialization is 80%.


If streamed into the Surveillance sub-specialisation you will spend 20 weeks at the SABM learning how to compile a picture of all the air activity in our skies. You will be taught to interpret large amounts of data quickly to identify friendly and hostile aircraft in order to provide commanders with the accurate tactical information on which they will base their decisions. This is a significant responsibility - if you identify the wrong aircraft as hostile, you could be directly responsible for a ‘friendly fire’ incident.


As a WC you will spend 25 weeks at the SABM learning to control combat aircraft. You will be taught Air Traffic Control procedures and air warfare skills which will allow you to direct pilots during combat. You will also get hands-on experience of controlling our own frontline aircraft, especially the Typhoon F-2 and those of other NATO nations such as the F-15. There may also be the opportunity for an Air Experience Flight in a Hawk jet trainer aircraft.


As a space operator, you will study the two-week Space Operations Foundation Course, followed by either the 8-week Ballistic Missile Defence and Space Surveillance Course at RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire, or alternatively the 4-week Space Operations Command Course at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. These courses will qualify you to lead a Space Operations team, in high-tempo situations, at the forefront of the United Kingdom’s space effort.