Weapon Systems Operator (Linguist)

Weapon Systems Operator Linguists play a vital role in protecting the security of the UK and our allies. Flying will be your life, operating cutting-edge equipment on board reconnaissance aircraft. 

As a Weapon Systems Operator (Linguist) you will be fluent in two or more languages and will monitor, collect and analyse foreign-language voice transmissions and offer intelligence support.

You will work from the UK and overseas to carry out your operational and training role. As your career develops, you could also take on mission planning and instructional duties. You will spend a proportion of your career overseas, for anything from a few days to a few months. You could fly on a training exercise in allied airspace or carry out your role on operations near/over hostile territory.

Initial pay after specialist training >£40,000 + benefits

Recruit & Non-Commissioned Aircrew Initial Training

Your career will start with the 10-week Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. The course is designed to help you adjust to a military environment. As well as fitness and military training, you will also learn about the RAF lifestyle.

Following the Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC), prospective Weapon Systems Operators and Air Operations (Control) Sergeants, known within the Service as Non-Commissioned Controllers, will complete the Direct Entrant Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (DE SNCO) Course at the Airmen's Command Squadron (ACS), RAF Halton. The 8-week training programme will develop the students’ knowledge of leadership within the RAF and increase their understanding of their management responsibilities as SNCOs.

The course includes Air Power academic study, Practical Leadership Exercises, an Appraisal Workshop, Interview Techniques and Fitness Development.

This is followed by a 5.2-week Military Aviation Ground School (MAGS) course at RAFC Cranwell. You will be taught generic aircrew subjects such as meteorology, aircraft systems and basic survival skills before progressing to your specialist language training.

Specialist Training

As a Linguist, you will undergo 18 months of intensive language training at Chicksands in Bedfordshire or Shrivenham in Wiltshire before proceeding to an Airborne Linguist Training Course that will build on previous MAGS subjects, adding airborne specific exercises. You will then be posted to RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. Here you will complete a 4-month Technical Applied Language Course before proceeding to a 6-month Operational Conversion Course on the aircraft to which you have been assigned.

Foundation Tour

For your first tour you will be posted to a flying station in the UK. During this tour you will be in an operational and training role, probably involving frequent overseas detachments. There will be other more experienced Weapon Systems Operator Linguists to help develop your skills and knowledge.

Your Career Prospects

You will join the RAF as an aviator under an initial 12-year engagement. Following several years’ service, you will be eligible to apply for an extension of service to complete a pension earning engagement of 20 years’ service or age 40, whichever is the later, during this time. You will hold the rank of acting Sergeant during your professional training. Once you start your front-line job, and you are assessed as being capable of operating independently, you will be promoted to substantive Sergeant. Further promotion to the rank of Flight Sergeant and beyond is by competitive selection.

Ongoing Development

As your career progresses, we will continue to train you in new skills. There are opportunities to undertake management and leadership training and you can also study for A-levels or a degree as your career develops.

Transferable Skills

The skills and experience you gain throughout your career as a Weapon Systems Operator Linguist could equip you for a number of civilian jobs, including translator or interpreter and management roles.



  • Must be a citizen of the United Kingdom since birth and must not hold (and must never have held) any other nationality or citizenship (including joint nationality) with the exception of dual British Irish citizenship. Your parents/spouse must currently have UK citizenship.
  • Following the MOD announcement that the UK Armed Forces will now be able to recruit commonwealth citizens without the 5-year residency requirement, please note that the RAF continues to apply standard residency requirements for security clearance, ie, DV employment requires 7-years UK residency immediately prior to enlistment; SC requires 3-years. 
  • Be aged between 17.5 and 28 years old. (Must attest before 29th birthday).
  • To train as aircrew in the RAF, you must be able to pass the RAF Swimming Test as follows: Swim 100 meters without rest, using any front or sidestroke, tread water for 2 minutes and get out of the deep end of the pool unassisted, without the use of steps or the bottom of the pool. All personnel attempting the test must wear clothing commensurate with that worn for their normal operating activity, which for aircrew is a flying suit.


  • You will need a minimum of 5 GCSEs (or acceptable equivalents) at a minimum of Grade C (Grade 4 to 5 with effect from Aug 17), including English Language and Mathematics or 5 Scottish National 5 (Grades A – C) in 5 subjects including English Language and Mathematics.
  • Linguists also need a modern language, although evidence of an ability to learn languages without a formal qualification may be acceptable.
 Full Time Job
 Published on 2023-08-25
 Deadline NA