Professional Pilot - The Military: RAF & RN (UK)

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Professional Pilot - The Military: RAF & RN (UK)

Postby C » Thu Jul 19, 2007 2:03 pm

Each of the three services in the UK has a capability to deploy their own air assets. The Royal Air Force is dedicated to it, the Royal Navy has the Fleet Air Arm, and the Army, the Army Air Corps. Of course the roles and equipment of the three vary greatly, from the C-17 of the RAF, to the Gazelle of the AAC.

The Royal Air Force

The entry requirement for a Pilot (and WSO in almost all respects) in the RAF are necessarily higher than the average. For the purposes of this I shall use the information currently on the RAF Careers website, purely as it can change from time to time, and the paper copies and other rarely keep in date with each other, a problem one would have to get used to anyway in the services!

The basics are still the same (note these are minimum requirements). To be a pilot in the RAF you have to be an Officer, so as with all other officer branches you will need: 5 GCSEs A-C, 2 A-Level passes (A-E). A degree is not required, and as such shall not give you an advantage, other than perhaps making you 3 years more mature, and with 3 years more "experience" of life. It can also help dispel any concerns over previous academic underachievement at school.

You will need to be over 17.5 years of age, and under 23, on the day you enter the RAF at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire for Initial Offier Training (IOT), a 32 week course designed to, in three terms, each of ten weeks, produce competant junior officers for the RAF (and other foreign services).

Following IOT, one enters into Elementary Flying Training (EFT). This is conducted on the Grob 115E Tutor (the same aircraft flown by the Air Cadet AEFs). This is conducted at either RAF Cranwell, RAF Church Fenton (Yorkshire) or RAF Wyton (Cambs).

After this you are streamed either Fast Jet, moving to RAF Linton on Ouse, and the Tucano; Rotary, at RAF Shawbury on the Squirrel and Griffon; or Multi Engine, on the Beech King Air 200 at RAF Cranwell. Following these courses you move to a front line Operational Conversion Unit (OCU, either a Sqn or Flt).

However, one must understand that it is a long term commitment. As an Officer you hold the Queen's Commission, and two are available; the Permanent Commissinon, for 18 years (formerly 16), or the Short Service Commission (SSC), for 12. The PC is more common - the RAF are interested in as long a return as possible for their investment.

Sponsorship in the Royal Air Force

RAF sponsorship is not quite as good as it used to be for Aircrew. Applying directly from Sixth Form can lead to
Last edited by C on Thu Jul 19, 2007 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Professional Pilot - The Military Way (UK)

Postby C » Thu Jul 19, 2007 5:14 pm

The Royal Navy

The Royal Navy have the Fleet Air Arm, and fly fixed wing assets (Harrier, Hawk, and Jetsream) as well as the better known rotary aircraft. It is also probably worth mentioning that becoming a helicopter pilot in any of the services does not preclude you becoming an commercial fixed wing pilot upon leaving the services (and of course there are several commercial helicopter jobs available too).

The entry requirements for the Royal Navy are broadly similar to those of the RAF. Academically, 5 GCSEs at A-C including Maths and English, and for A-Level or equivalent, 140 UCAS points. For Naval College Entry at 18 a degree is not required. For those completing a degree there is Direct Graduate Entry.

On entry to the Brittania Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, Devon, you need to be 17, and under 26 years of age.
This is where Basic Training (Officer Training) occurs, and lasts for up to a year (slightly longer than the RAF).

From there training moves to RAF Barkston Heath, 5 miles south of RAF Cranwell, completing Elementary Flying Training on the Slingsby Firefly. From here, streamed either Fast Jet or Rotary, you follow the RAF students to either RAF Linton on Ouse, and the Tucano for Basic Fast Jet Training, or RAF Shawbury for rotary wing students (Squirrel/Griffon).

On completion of those courses, successful BFJT students move on to RAF Valley, and the Hawk, for Advanced Flying Training (AFT) and tactical weapons training. Those unsuccessful at BFJT may well then move to the Helicopter stream. On successful completion of Valley/Shawbury, the student would then move onto a frontline unit for conversion.

Interestingly, the RN documentation suggests that the AFCOs (Armed Forces Careers Offices) will discuss lengths of service, but expect them to be broadly similar to the RAF. 12 years appears to be the minimum.

Sponsorship in the Royal Navy

A Sixth Form Scholarship is available of
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