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Ask an ABM.

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    (Original post by ProStacker)
    To get an office with a window. It is a strange world our mighty '3rd seat in the cockpit' bretheren occupy.
    haha, is there any truth to the rumour that some ABM's are now piloting UAV's??

    How long before the ABM IS the 'seat' in the cockpit?
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    (Original post by carigjosp)
    Hi Vizzini,

    I start IOT next month and am going for ABM. I am currently serving and I am interested in instructor duties. How much scope is there to go back to Boulmer as an instructor and what rank would I be expected to achieve first.
    How long is promotion to Sqn Ldr?
    Hi carigjosp,

    First off, good luck with IOT; I hope you enjoy yourself!

    Instructor duties come as a second tour job, so that you've had at least 18 months to consolidate your skills in your role and gain some out of area operational experience. Selection is on suitability for instruction and not rank dependent - we've had Pilot Officers doing the job before now. Depending on your specialization you will be posted to the School of Aerospace Battle Management (SABM) at RAF Boulmer to instruct on either the Weapons Control Course (WCC) or the Identification Course (IDC).

    If you're instructing on the WCC you'll be training a mix of ab-initio officers fresh from IOT and Senior Aircraftsmen (SACs) drawn from Trade Group 12, who have shown aptitude for the task and sufficient maturity and experience to progress to the rank og Sergeant on completion of the course. That aspect is similar to the ATC fast-track.

    If you're instructing on the IDC, you'll be training a mix of ab-initio officers and some SNCOs who have been selected for IDO training. They have to be substantive Sergeants, unlike for the WCC.

    As to promotion to Squadron Leader, that really depends! Some very, very good people have made it after 3 tours as a Flight Lieutenant, approx 6 years as a Flt Lt. Some have had to wait a bit longer...
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    (Original post by carboncopy)
    haha, is there any truth to the rumour that some ABM's are now piloting UAV's??

    How long before the ABM IS the 'seat' in the cockpit?
    Hi carboncopy,

    It's no longer a rumour, although there's a way to go before we have an ABM piloting the thing. We have just posted an ABM onto the Reaper training course, but it'll be at least 3 years before they get to actually play with it.

    This is a new area for us and the other specializations within the Operations Support Branch and it's reliant on a whole host of criteria - medical, personal, career and so on. It's a bit of an experiment to get non-aircrew into the role, since they can't spare any aircrew to fill the requirement.

    Watch this space!
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    Awesome dude, i have applied for ABM as my first choice but still yet to have my presentation/filter interview but after you giving all this information it has made me want this job even more, sounds impressive and exciting!
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    (Original post by O.P)
    Awesome dude, i have applied for ABM as my first choice but still yet to have my presentation/filter interview but after you giving all this information it has made me want this job even more, sounds impressive and exciting!
    Thank you O.P, glad to have helped!

    On a different matter, I was asked a question via PM yesterday, which I've asked to reproduce here:

    What I wanted to know really is how things work after your first tour. I know that most spend their first tour at Boulmer in Weapons or surveillance, but how are roles delegated with regard to 16 air assault brigade and BMEWS, and others? Is this aptitude based?!
    Most people do spend their first tour at Boulmer, however, as I mentioned previously, on completion of training at Boulmer, some people are posted to RAF Scampton. A very, very few on the Surveillance side are posted straight to RAF Fylingdales - this is part of the BMEWS (Ballistic Missile Early Warning System - part of the US's global warning system.)

    So, with regard to 16 Air Assault Brigade (AAB) and generally for BMEWS - commonly known as the Space stream, that's half the answer - if you're selected Surveillance you can move into Space.

    To date, the 16 AAB and Space stream posts have been drawn from the Surveillance specialization. You would normally, barring the cases mentioned above, enter the Space stream as a second tour-ist, so on completion of a CRC IDO tour. You might well, then, remain in that stream for several tours, possibly including an exchange tour to Coloado in the US to their Space HQ, or to work on the Space Based Infra-Red Satellite (SBIRS) system.

    We have detached IDOs and WCs in their first tours to work with the Army for periods of 4-6 months, but this is rare and would be into a theatre post. I need to be clear here, ALL jobs in either a UK CRC or in theatre are operational, which is a major difference between ABM and ATC, for instance. Their UK roles are typically not classed as operational - ie actively engaged in the defence of the UK, which we are. But I digress.

    Typically, postings or detachments to the Army are taken up as a third/fourth tour-ist, so you will have completed a tour in a CRC and then completed either a tour as an instructor on the SABM, or working with 1 ACC, our deployable radar unit - currently in Afghanistan. 1 ACC work very closely with the Army in any case. Thereafter, before you can do the 16 AAB/another Army post you have to become either an FA or SD and achieve Combat Ready status.

    SDs can go to 16 AAB to work as the Brigade's Battlespace Manager. Both SDs and FAs can go to work with a particular Division or Brigade as what is now known as Staff Officer Level 3 Air (SO3 Air - SO3 is Flt Lt by another name). In this slot you are effectively the 'Air' guy for the Brigade or Division and are expected to be an expert on pretty much anything to do with airspace management, or air movement, depending on their requirements. This type of job is what is becomong known as Air/Land Integration and it's a big growth area for us and the RAF as a whole.
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    (Original post by Vizzini)
    Division or Brigade as what is now known as Staff Officer Level 3 Air (SO3 Air - SO3 is Flt Lt by another name). In this slot you are effectively the 'Air' guy for the Brigade or Division and are expected to be an expert on pretty much anything to do with airspace management, or air movement, depending on their requirements. This type of job is what is becomong known as Air/Land Integration and it's a big growth area for us and the RAF as a whole.
    Are you involved in that too? I thought the BAMO for 16AA covered that requirement.

    You've not given us any great stories of the AWACS world yet! Another strange space filled with your pasty-skinned bretheren.
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    When I was at Boulmer they said that not many are posted on an E3D at the moment. Shame, those things look cool!
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    Excellent thread Vizzini, I'm currently preparing for my filter interview. Im applying for ATC with ABM as a second and medical support officer as a kind of back up.

    After reading through the thread, I think my top two choices may be switching around.
    Thanks for giving up your time:top:
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    (Original post by ProStacker)
    Are you involved in that too? I thought the BAMO for 16AA covered that requirement.

    You've not given us any great stories of the AWACS world yet! Another strange space filled with your pasty-skinned bretheren.
    PS, you're correct that the BAMO (Brigade Air Movement Officer) will deal with that for 16AAB. However, we have had ABMs working with other Divs or Them in roles called BM, or something similar, who have been sorting out air moves for guys on the ground - particularly arranging short notice helicopters and the like. As I understand it, and I've limited understanding of the particular role, the BAMO does more of the big stuff, like actually getting troops and materiel into theatre. Prepared to be corrected!

    As to the AWACS, what to say - it's an airliner with a radar on it! I'm being facetious; I need to check my facts on that before I post anything detailed, and, as you may have gathered I've been a bit too busy to post for the last few days.

    What I can tell you is that the ABM, not Trade Group, intake is relatively limited. Once qualified, assuming you do qualify, this is a big hurdle, you will start from the ground up and a tour will last 5 years. You will get flying pay, so that's around £3000 extra per annum, I believe, and all the pies you can eat I'll find out some more, correct info and get back to you all.

    Vizzini
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    (Original post by shorey)
    Excellent thread Vizzini, I'm currently preparing for my filter interview. Im applying for ATC with ABM as a second and medical support officer as a kind of back up.

    After reading through the thread, I think my top two choices may be switching around.
    Thanks for giving up your time:top:
    Thank you Shorey, glad to help. Good luck with the interview!

    Vizzini
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    Stupid question.... Flying pay??
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    (Original post by Owen27)
    Stupid question.... Flying pay??
    Yes, Flying Pay! Basically, since the compensations of being aricrew are so enormous (it's the best job in the world after all), all aircrew only receive what is known as Flying pay - I've checked my facts, now. You start on £4k pa and after 4 years you progress to £8k pa, then when you get to 8 years, you go up to £12k pa. So there you go.

    (Some of the above may not be true)

    Right, E3-D AWACS ('the jet') and ABMs. I've asked an ex-Tactical Director how this all works, so I'm fairly sure it's accurate!

    You can apply to join the E3 force at any stage of your productive career, ie once you've qualified in role as either Weapons or Surveillance. If you are selected, and, as I said, there are limited places for ABMs each year, you will start on the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAF Waddington. There are 2 intakes each year to the OCU and the maximum number of ABMS per intake is 3. Realistically, the intake is likely to be no more than 2 ABMs per OCU cse, giving a total of 4 slots for the E3 every year. Since you do receive Flying Pay once qualified, competition for selection is very fierce.

    Flying Pay is pay that you receive in addition to your base RAF salary, basically for being in something that leaves the ground. The figures and timelines above are correct and it's only for aircrew. As an ABM, you will only receive Flying Pay whilst you are posted to the E3 force, once qualified on the jet, whereas, Pilots and WSOs keep receiving it even when they move into a desk job...

    Once on the OCU, the course will last 6 months. The first 12 weeks will be spent at RAF Cranwell becoming 'air-minded'. Essentially, you are being transformed from a ground person into aircrew, so you will learn about the weather, complete MOORTREK and so on. It's essentially Ground School. From there you will spend the next 3 - 4 months at RAF Waddington on 54 (R) Squadron, the OCU, learning how to do a job, for which you are already qualified, on the jet. People regularly fail at this stage for one reason alone - the 1960s tech currently in use on the jet. People don't fail because they can't do their job, they fail because they can't do the job on the kit - I'm reliably informed that it's a pig to use. It is scheduled to be replaced under something called Project EAGLE. Watch this space...

    Once qualified you will be either a WC if Weapons (no change there, then), or a Surveillance Operator (SO)/Electronic Support Measures Operator (ESMO) if Surveillance - these 2 roles are held at the same time. Let's say you'd already progressed to FA or SD on the ground. In this case, starting on the jet would be a backward step as you will start at the bottom again. So, you'll have completed at least 5 productive years on the ground and risen to a position of some seniority and responsibility as an officer to be, effectively, demoted in role. So, if you do want to go to the jet, it's best to try for it as soon as possible, ideally as a second tour. There are other reasons for this: once qualified, posted onto the jet and in receipt of Flying Pay, they don't want to lose you, so a posting to the jet is always 5 years. So you could complete 5 years on the ground and then 5 years in the air and, in the meantime, all your colleagues and peers will most likely be advancing up the career and promotion ladders...

    On the jet, you'll spend 2 years as a WC or SO/ESMO, then move up to FA (still the same) or Surveillance Controller (SC) - the same as an SD. After 2 years there, you may progress to Tactical Director (TD), which is equivalent to an MC. Progression into the FA/SC and TD roles is competitive, however, so you may not progress in that timescale.

    The E3 force trains for and is used in major warfighting roles, or some of the more interesting aspects of operations, for instance Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEOs), where something like No 1 ACC is unavailable or inappropriate. I'm told it is an extremely varied and interesting job and you do get involved in a lot of operational stuff that you just can't do in a UK CRC, so that's a significant plus in terms of career enjoyment. However, across the ABM Branch, it is widely seen as a career limiter for the reasons above.

    Pros - Interesting Operational stuff, flying pay, wearing a growbag (flight suit) and posing, all the pies and in-flight curry you can eat.

    Cons - spending siginificant time away from home on ops or trg, spending 8 hrs or longer in a tin can breathing recycled air whilst on ops or trg, potential to limit your career progression.

    Have I covered everything, ProStacker?

    Any other questions?

    Vizzini
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    That's amazing info vizzini, thanks! Not sure if you could maybe expand on another part of ABM I have heard about. Apparently there is a posting to the MOD in london, what does this role entail? Is this the more 'bigger picture' stuff that ABMs get the chance to deal with?

    Thanks in advance, this stuff is a really interesting read!
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    Flying pay for FCs is a bit of a contentious issue, which I imagine will be looked at pretty closely in the next FP review. It's constantly explained that flying pay is, in equal chunks, a recruitment and retention allowance. Recruitment in that it offers a little extra for doing a dangerous, difficult job with a long training pipeline, but I dispute this as I think most people who sign up as wannabe aircrew don't give a stuff what the salary is. I joined without actually knowing what it was, I seem to remember. Airman aircrew might make it more pertinent, being that it reflects a noticeable increase over another Sgt-level job.

    Retention is more important, though. My flying pay goes up every so often to reflect the fact that as I get to the 2000hrs mark I could, with relative ease, transfer to a private sector job for 50% more pay, many more benefits, and none of the detractions of a service career, leading to a much higher quality of life. It's there to narrow the gap between my colleague who PVR'd and now flies for BA, and me, sitting there as a valuable 3rd/4th tourist, and make me less likely to leave.

    However, I fail to see why fighter controllers need "retained" when the E3 jobs are terribly, terribly popular. Nor does it offer them the chance to jump ship to a more highly-paid civilian job like pilots can, requiring an increase in pay to keep them.

    I'm very much in favour of the concept that flying pay should be paid to everyone who flies to reflect the strenuous, dangerous, complex nature of the task, and that the various bands should reflect some of the retention issues unique to each aircrew job (such as the availability of very highly paid civilian flying jobs for pilots), but the MoD will never admit that it's "danger money" nor will they say it's anything other than for "recruitment and retention." To that end, it wouldn't surprise me if it doesn't exist for jobs like ABM in the future. I suspect the disparities around the SO2 officer aircrew levels will need some money throwing at them, so perhaps it'll go to pay for that.
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    (Original post by Wzz)
    flying pay should be paid to everyone who flies to reflect the strenuous, dangerous, complex nature of the task
    *cough* I'm glad we have Aircrew to stick up for that. I think you should get flying pay, but not for the reasons you do. You'll be claiming you are responsible for stuff as well :rolleyes:
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    (Original post by Wzz)
    However, I fail to see why fighter controllers need "retained" when the E3 jobs are terribly, terribly popular. Nor does it offer them the chance to jump ship to a more highly-paid civilian job like pilots can, requiring an increase in pay to keep them... it wouldn't surprise me if it doesn't exist for jobs like ABM in the future.
    Wzz,

    Thank you for posting and clarifying matters further. Flying Pay is always a contentious issue but this clearly isn't the place to start a PPRUNE-style bore-off about it all...

    I think almost all your points are valid and I am broadly in agreement that there is no real requirement for ABMs to receive Flying Pay to encourage retention. The E3 is, after all, simply a CRC with wings. However, my feeling is that the role is so sought after simply because it does confer Flying Pay on those who qualify. If they really wanted out of a CRC role, they'd just go for No 1 ACC. This is purely a personal view, but I'm not convinced so many people would be so keen to endure the discomforts and interruptions to their day-to-day living that, I'm told, being mission crew causes. So, purely in that respect, I think Flying Pay is valuable as a recruitment incentive for the E3 force. Speaking to ex-E3 types, they frequently can't wait to get back on the thing after being 'grounded' for a tour, simply so they can have nice things again.

    (Original post by carboncopy)
    Apparently there is a posting to the MOD in london, what does this role entail? Is this the more 'bigger picture' stuff that ABMs get the chance to deal with?
    carboncopy, I've asked around and there are indeed several postings to MOD at the SO2, SO1 levels (that's Squadron Leader and Wing Commander, respectively). These tend toward the weird and wonderful and start at the SO2 level. So, yes, this is the 'bigger picture' stuff we sometimes get involved in and some of these posts are completely unrelated to anything to do with ABM core roles. Two of the slots that I'm told we have held are in Directorate Special Forces and Directorate Intelligence Services, which sounds like I'm really bigging us up, but these are honestly the only ones people knew of!

    Vizzini
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    (Original post by ProStacker)
    *cough* I'm glad we have Aircrew to stick up for that. I think you should get flying pay, but not for the reasons you do. You'll be claiming you are responsible for stuff as well :rolleyes:
    Not likely. I think I should get flying pay, but only really because I'm employable by Easyjet, BA and Netjets, all of whom would pay me broadly what I earn now when I started, before rapidly paying me much more than a Wg Cdr long before I could hope to be there in the RAF.
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    (Original post by Vizzini)
    Thank you for posting and clarifying matters further. Flying Pay is always a contentious issue but this clearly isn't the place to start a PPRUNE-style bore-off about it all...
    I had no intention of anything like that, believe me. If the E3 job needs a financial incentive to encourage people to do it, then fair enough; but that opens a whole new can of worms! It's easy to disguise extra money for E3-bound FCs as flying pay, but what about other jobs that aren't popular?

    I think QFIs should be paid more. Maybe duff jobs like IOT Flt Cdr should attract more money too? I heard a superb concept for an adjustment to the way officers are paid from a VSO once, and it would solve all the problems like this at a stroke.
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    (Original post by Wzz)
    Maybe duff jobs like IOT Flt Cdr should attract more money too?
    It is only that because of the people we send there - often those who need flight commandering experience. We should look to Sandhurst who send there top troopies to teach. If we keep using IOT as a dumping / practice ground, it will ever be thus.
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    Any more news on Project Taranis yet? How closely would ABM's be working with them?

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