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 each year with up to 4 junior warfare officers, including foreign officers, while a tailored course is provided to all 849 Naval Air Squadron Observer Students.

On completion of the course, Royal Navy FCs are qualified a NATO recognised 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 at RAF Cranwell and a full aircrew medical. The intake generally comes either direct from the Initial Warfare Officer course (IWO) or from Warfare Officers that have completed their first bridge watchkeeping appointment at sea.

Students receive initial instruction in Air Traffic Control and Meteorology before embarking on 10-week phase of practical and classroom instruction at the RNSFC at RNAS Yeovilton.

They receive a number of introductory lectures and demonstrations before controlling live sorties, utilising Hawk jets from 736 Naval Air Squadron and DA20 Falcon jets from Cobham Aviation, in the airspace around South West England.

Students get the 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.

Students will also visit RAF Scampton controlling modern aircraft such as Typhoon FGR4s and USAF F-15s from the Control Reporting Centre (CRC).

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

FCs deploy at sea in the Royal Navy’s world leading Type 45 Destroyers and the new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers for their first FC assignment.

Further assignment include a NATO exchange onboard the RAF E-3D Sentry AWACS aircraft, an instructor position at the RAF School of Air Battlespace Management as well as a controller exchange with the RAS’s deployable with No. 1 Air Control Centre (1ACC).

International exchange opportunities are available with the French Navy and Royal Navy FCs have previously 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, the majority of 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 Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and the new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, while the requirement to develop further Battlespace Management skills continues to be fulfilled.