Observer Training

Observers are the Fleet Air Arm’s Airborne Combat Systems Officers. The pilot’s job is to get him where he needs to go, the Observer’s to fight the aircraft. Skilled warfare officers, they normally act as aircraft commanders in tactical situations whether acting alone or with other aircraft.

The first real step to becoming pilots or observers in the RN is to attend the Officer Aircrew Selection Centre at RAF Cranwell. Here you will undergo the Flying Aptitude Tests to assess your future employability, and if successful you will then go to the Admiralty Interview Board. If you pass this you will be offered a place at the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) at Dartmouth in Devon.

Once Initial Officer Training (IOT) is complete at BRNC you will undergo Observer Flying Grading at 750 NAS at RNAS Culdrose. This two week course assesses your potential to pass the long and demanding flying training ahead of you.

After grading there are a few exciting professional courses to complete before you start your flying training proper. These include learning how to fire-fight on a ship, repair battle damage whilst water rushes around you or how to survive in the open. These will all test your fitness, determination, team work and develop your burgeoning leadership skills.

After this you will enter the new United Kingdom Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) to conduct your basic training. Training begins at 703 Squadron Observer Training Flight at RAF Barkston Heath for 13 weeks before moving to 750 NAS at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall for 14 weeks on the new King Air ‘Avenger’ aircraft.

At the end of this you will be role disposed to one of three RN Operational Conversion Units of 702 NAS for Lynx Mk8, 824 NAS for Merlin Mk2 or 849 NAS for Sea King Mk7 ASaC which will take between 11 and 15 months before you eventually make it to the front line.

This may appear to be a long and daunting pipeline but, as anyone who has made it will tell you, it’s worth every moment!

750 Naval Air Squadron

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703 Naval Air Squadron

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Operational Conversion Unit Training

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