Air combat officer

What they do

Air combat officers manage and organise Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) combat missions, ensuring that missions are successfully completed in the most efficient and safest manner. They make real-time command and control decisions regarding the movements and actions undertaken by combat forces. They perform surveillance and control duties on the ground and in the air to locate and identify air and surface targets, disseminate this information to associated units, operate mission systems, undertake search and rescue missions, detect and identify warships, illegal fishing boats and merchant vessels, and offer tactical support to combat missions.

Working conditions

Air combat officers often work in stressful combat situations and may be required to make decisions that affect the personal safety of others. They work in all types of conditions during combat missions. They work irregular hours and have to do shift work. Air combat officers may work at one of the many RAAF facilities around the state, either in metropolitan or regional areas.

Tools and technologies

Air combat officers use a range of air combat equipment and mission systems including aircraft systems, electronic warfare equipment, radar and infra-red targeting systems and weaponry.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become an air combat officer in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) you can choose from multiple entry pathways. You can apply for:

  • general officer entry through the Officers? Training School in East Sale, Victoria for roles that do not require a degree
  • a degree program through the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra
  • undergraduate entry (if you are studying a relevant degree at an Australian university you could be eligible for a Defence University Sponsorship and have your fees paid in return for a commitment to an officer role in the Air Force)
  • graduate entry, if you have already completed a university degree in a specialist field such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, law or engineering (amongst others); or
  • the Graduate Medical Program, if you hold an appropriate undergraduate degree, have successfully completed the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admission Test and have been accepted into an Australian university.

To apply you must be an Australian citizen (although permanent residents may be considered under certain circumstances) and be at least 16 years and six months old. You will need to undergo a series of written, aptitude, physical, psychological and medical checks and interviews. You will also need to undergo a National Police Check and pass the Officer Selection Board.

Successful applicants are required to complete a 17 week Initial Officer Course at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base at East Sale in Victoria. Following graduation from the Initial Officer Course, air combat officers either undertake specialist employment training in their profession or go straight to work.

You can also become an air combat officer on a part time basis in the Air Force Reserves. The entry requirements for these streams and specialist roles will be different.

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