Royal Navy School of Fighter Control

The Royal Navy School of Fighter Control (RNSFC) staff carry out the training and annual validation of all Royal Navy Fighter Controllers (FCs) as well as supporting the Fleet and Flag Officer Sea Training.

The School runs three courses a year of up to five students, including international students, while a tailored course is provided to all 849 Squadron Observers.

On completion of the course, Royal Navy FCs are qualified to the NATO 1B standard, able to control multiple aircraft of any type, wherever in the world Royal Navy Ships may be deployed on operations.

Selection involves a day-long aptitude test, with the intake generally coming direct from the Initial Warfare Officer's Course (IWOC) or from Warfare Officers that have completed their first bridge watchkeeping appointment at sea.

Students receive initial instruction in ATC and Meteorology before embarking on 13-week phase of practical instruction at the RNSFC at RNAS Yeovilton.

They receive a number of introductory lectures and demonstrations before controlling live sorties, utilising Hawk jets, in the airspace above South West England.

Students get a chance to fly onboard a Hawk aircraft during a live sortie in order to view intercepts through the pilot's eyes.

Simulator sorties are also conducted and provide the ideal training environment in which conditions can be controlled more closely.

The final 3 weeks are spent at RAF Scampton controlling radar fitted Typhoon FGR4s and USAF F-15s from the Control Reporting Centre (CRC).

The course is completed at the Maritime Warfare School near Portsmouth where students learn to integrate into the Ship's Operations Room Command Team.

FCs are deployed in the Royal Navy’s world leading Type 45 Destroyers, Type 42 Destroyers and Aircraft Carriers at Sea.

There are also exchange postings with the RAF including onboard E-3D Sentry AWACS aircraft and deployed with No. 1 Air Control Centre (1ACC).

International exchange opportunities are available with the French Navy and Royal Navy FCs have also deployed in the Air Space Battle Management role in support of Operation Herrick.

Fighter Control is a Warfare sub-specialisation rather than a separate career branch and, after 2 or 3 appointments, many FCs go on to train as Principal Warfare Officers later in their careers, and usually further air specialisation training as an Air Warfare Officer providing Command and Control to the Air Battlespace for a Task Group.

This is an exciting time for Fighter Control in the RN with the introduction of the Type 45 destroyers, the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and the new F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, while the requirement to develop further Battlespace Management skills continues to be fulfilled.