RN Aircrew Officer Observer

Could a RN Observer on the forum please share some knowledge and opinion on the following points? I'm looking for personal experience rather than definitive answers.

(1) Location during service


Could you provide an insight into the career you have had so far? i.e operational tours undertaken, variety of work, countries operated in etc. I am interested to know in the possibilities of different theatres to operate in and how deployments work, their frequency and how they might progress throughout your career (I understand this is massively based on the political climate, but examples would be great).

• Are you stationed somewhere specifically in the UK/abroad (land/sea based) for set periods of time, or do you move as a unit/ship, with family following?

• What ships could you be stationed on, do you spend time on a carrier?

• What UK/worldwide bases could a RN Observer be based from?

• If I successfully pass all of my training, where would I be typically looking at being drafted to, for my first job?


(2) Typical service length

Does the role of RN Observer tend to have a life span? i.e. do they spend 10 to 15 years in the role before moving to something else within the Royal Navy? Does age become a factor at a certain point of a Naval career.

• What is the typical length of service for a RN Observer?

• Do they tend to spend most of their career as a RN Observer or with age/experience stream off and pursue other avenues of a Royal Navy career? Could you provide examples.

• Would there be a future opportunity for me to re-take the FATS test and train as a pilot? or once I sign to be a RN Observer is that my pathway, without choice for change.

(3) Future Career prospects

I am interested to know what ‘Warfare’ Officer means - it has cropped up repeatedly on the forums for what RN Observers tend to do in the 'afterlife', but i'm not sure how generic this term is. If I was to be given the opportunity to join, it would be with the strongest intention to spend most of my career in active service. A big factor in making my decision to join the Royal Navy is career lifespan and what future career prospects this role could open to aircrew who aren't pilots in ‘civvy’ street, once their service career is over.

With my current job, in terms of finance and job prospects, it’s very clear what’s available to me should I wish to stay in my current employment over the next 5, 10 and 15+ years, not just with the company, but within the industry I have chosen to channel my expertise. I have worked hard to study for my graduate and post graduate qualifications (5+ years), but I am terribly unsatisfied with the desk job lifestyle and feel I am not fulfilling my full potential. I have always been interested in flying, whilst at this present time, the opportunity to commit to joining as a pilot is no longer available to me. I am however, very keen to continue with my application for the RN Observer position and I am sure some of your answers will erase some doubts I have about the career lifespan of a RN Observer and what typically can come up within the RN to further develop a lifetime career.
 
(1) Location during service

Could you provide an insight into the career you have had so far? i.e operational tours undertaken, variety of work, countries operated in etc. I am interested to know in the possibilities of different theatres to operate in and how deployments work, their frequency and how they might progress throughout your career (I understand this is massively based on the political climate, but examples would be great).

• Are you stationed somewhere specifically in the UK/abroad (land/sea based) for set periods of time, or do you move as a unit/ship, with family following?

• What ships could you be stationed on, do you spend time on a carrier?

• What UK/worldwide bases could a RN Observer be based from?

• If I successfully pass all of my training, where would I be typically looking at being drafted to, for my first job?
From the Obs I have known and loved:

You will typically do 2 year assignments after completing training. If you take your family with you is up to you.

Lynx/WildCat - worldwide deployment, gulf deployment(s), time in the UK.
Merlin - gulf deployment(s) - lots, UK based - lots, but lots of flying away from base, worldwide deployment.
ASaC - HERRICK deployments x 8(!), gulf deployment(s) - lots.

As for where you might deploy, pick a sh(thole of the world, and you'll probably find an aircraft (and Obs) from the RN there. Depending on how your career unfolds, it will depend on how many deployments you'll do - if you ratchet up 3000+ hours, you'll be doing lots; if you're on the Sqn Command path, much less.

Where will you be based?

If flying:
WildCat - Yeovilton - FF/DD and possibly Carrier based.
Merlin - Culdrose - FF and probably Carrier based.
ASaC - Culdrose - Carrier based.
If not flying:
anywhere the UK MoD can be found.
 
(2) Typical service length

Does the role of RN Observer tend to have a life span? i.e. do they spend 10 to 15 years in the role before moving to something else within the Royal Navy? Does age become a factor at a certain point of a Naval career.

• What is the typical length of service for a RN Observer?

• Do they tend to spend most of their career as a RN Observer or with age/experience stream off and pursue other avenues of a Royal Navy career? Could you provide examples.

• Would there be a future opportunity for me to re-take the FATS test and train as a pilot? or once I sign to be a RN Observer is that my pathway, without choice for change.
Your "life span" depends on you, frankly. I know Obs flying at 50+, and I know Obs who've stopped flying after 8 years front line.

There is a very very rare - i.e. don't ever plan for it - ability to re-stream FJ. This depends on the following: your aptitude scores at FAT (I've never heard of a trained Obs doing this); the ability of the Obs world to release you; your aptitude for FJ flying. Put this way, the best potential FJ pilots are 18 year olds who've played lots of computer games; being male can infer an advantage. If you're a trained Obs, you are no longer 18, and thus an increased risk of training...
 
(3) Future Career prospects

I am interested to know what ‘Warfare’ Officer means - it has cropped up repeatedly on the forums for what RN Observers tend to do in the 'afterlife', but i'm not sure how generic this term is. If I was to be given the opportunity to join, it would be with the strongest intention to spend most of my career in active service. A big factor in making my decision to join the Royal Navy is career lifespan and what future career prospects this role could open to aircrew who aren't pilots in ‘civvy’ street, once their service career is over.

With my current job, in terms of finance and job prospects, it’s very clear what’s available to me should I wish to stay in my current employment over the next 5, 10 and 15+ years, not just with the company, but within the industry I have chosen to channel my expertise. I have worked hard to study for my graduate and post graduate qualifications (5+ years), but I am terribly unsatisfied with the desk job lifestyle and feel I am not fulfilling my full potential. I have always been interested in flying, whilst at this present time, the opportunity to commit to joining as a pilot is no longer available to me. I am however, very keen to continue with my application for the RN Observer position and I am sure some of your answers will erase some doubts I have about the career lifespan of a RN Observer and what typically can come up within the RN to further develop a lifetime career.
Warfare Officer - people who drive and fight ships, submarines and aircraft.

Obs can do one of 3(ish) main career tracks - remain front line, remain in aviation, go "GL".

remain front line - exactly that. You'll go around a loop of "at sea" jobs, jobs on the Squadron (Ops Officer, likely Obs instructor), possibly jobs on the second line (training) squadron, rinse, repeat. Some really like this, others think it is stultifying and dull. You'll top out as a career Lt, possibly reach Lt Cdr if you're lucky.

remain in aviation - slightly broader than being front line. You'll probably gain a Warfare qualification, and do tours in training establishments, Squadron HQs, inspection/training teams. You might have the chance to do a non-Flying assignment, and/or go to a ship or Battlestaff to do aviation related assignments there. This might be a route to Command a Squadron, and you can probably reach Cdr/Capt RN (depending on your jobs).

go GL (old acronym, don't worry what it means) - you stop flying (at least for a bit) and join the Surface Fleet and become a PWO, and possibly a CO of a Ship. This is nearly the only route to Admiral, and yuo can take the advice I've provided elsewhere on this site to see what happens next.

There are other smaller "routes", including joining the test and evaluation route, air safety, unmanned air systems etc, but they're things to consider once you are in.
 
@alfred_the_great

Many thanks for your response and taking the time to reply - you hit all of the points I was looking for and gave a great insight.

It would be interesting/useful to hear some personal experiences throughout the career of any RN Observers on the forum.
 

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