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    Hello TSR,

    Technically, this is my second introduction as I've already posted elsewhere on TSR, so, hello again, I'm Vizzini.

    I’ve been lurking on this site on and off for the last 3 years, with a vested interest: I’m a serving Aerospace Battle Manager / Fighter Controller based at the School of Aerospace Battle Management (ABM) at RAF Boulmer and I know a lot of our prospective candidates use TSR as a source of information.

    It's my job to get the word out over the internet to people who might be looking at RAF Officer as a career and help them find out as much as possible about the ABM role. Our reasons are simple. Few people, even in the RAF know what ABMs actually do, even at some AFCOs (not a dig!), so people aren’t applying for the job. We’re losing 6 officers a year and the posts aren’t being filled, so there are definitely jobs for anyone with the aptitude.

    I'm here to answer your questions about ABM. Ask me anything, within reason!, and I'll attempt to answer as best I can. I'm standing by for some inter-Branch banter as well; I know there's an ATC contingent on here already! Really, though, I just want to make sure people on here have the right information and the right idea of what to expect if you either apply for the job of, or just encounter, an ABM.

    There's a lot of very good, general information on here already about applying to the RAF, so if your question relates more to that, please use the search function before you ask me This is not because I don't want to talk to you, it's just that I'm not as much of an expert on that side of things as, say, threeportdrift or wzz! Finally, I'm doing this at work, so if you post a question one evening you may not get a reply until the morning. Please be patient: I'm not ignoring you, it's just that I may be doing home-stuff

    Happy posting!
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    (Original post by Vizzini)
    There's a lot of very good, general information on here already about applying to the RAF, so if your question relates more to that, please use the search function before you ask me This is not because I don't want to talk to you, it's just that I'm not as much of an expert on that side of things as, say, threeportdrift or wzz! Finally, I'm doing this at work, so if you post a question one evening you may not get a reply until the morning. Please be patient: I'm not ignoring you, it's just that I may be doing home-stuff

    Happy posting!
    Whoops!

    Forgot to add that I'd like this to become a useful for resource for anyone interested in ABM, or trying to find out more about it, so please post your queries in the thread rather than PM'ing me - unless it's really something you'd prefer not to share. I may subsequently post information related to a PM in here if I think others will also benefit - but I'll ensure that post doesn't relate to you at all.

    Vizzini
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    Hey, thanks for the chance to have a chat, i have OASC on July 28th with ABM as my first choice, I visited Boulmer and I loved it!! I'd be so pleased if I joined as an ABM.
    I'll message if I have any questions while cramming for OASC :P
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    I have both ATCO and ABM on my application form. After a base visit and speaking to some air traffic controllers they said that anything other than ABM- Weapons might be abit boring.

    Could you give me some info about the day to day jobs of an ABM specialising in surveillance or space please.
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    (Original post by Owen27)
    Hey, thanks for the chance to have a chat, i have OASC on July 28th with ABM as my first choice, I visited Boulmer and I loved it!! I'd be so pleased if I joined as an ABM.
    I'll message if I have any questions while cramming for OASC :P
    Owen,

    Thanks for dropping by and good luck with your cramming and OASC! Looking forward to chatting to you.

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    (Original post by Vizzini)
    Hello TSR,

    Technically, this is my second introduction as I've already posted elsewhere on TSR, so, hello again, I'm Vizzini.

    I’ve been lurking on this site on and off for the last 3 years, with a vested interest: I’m a serving Aerospace Battle Manager / Fighter Controller based at the School of Aerospace Battle Management (ABM) at RAF Boulmer and I know a lot of our prospective candidates use TSR as a source of information.

    It's my job to get the word out over the internet to people who might be looking at RAF Officer as a career and help them find out as much as possible about the ABM role. Our reasons are simple. Few people, even in the RAF know what ABMs actually do, even at some AFCOs (not a dig!), so people aren’t applying for the job. We’re losing 6 officers a year and the posts aren’t being filled, so there are definitely jobs for anyone with the aptitude.

    I'm here to answer your questions about ABM. Ask me anything, within reason!, and I'll attempt to answer as best I can. I'm standing by for some inter-Branch banter as well; I know there's an ATC contingent on here already! Really, though, I just want to make sure people on here have the right information and the right idea of what to expect if you either apply for the job of, or just encounter, an ABM.

    There's a lot of very good, general information on here already about applying to the RAF, so if your question relates more to that, please use the search function before you ask me This is not because I don't want to talk to you, it's just that I'm not as much of an expert on that side of things as, say, threeportdrift or wzz! Finally, I'm doing this at work, so if you post a question one evening you may not get a reply until the morning. Please be patient: I'm not ignoring you, it's just that I may be doing home-stuff

    Happy posting!
    That sounds.... MAGIC! :p:

    I crack myself up sometimes.
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    (Original post by jon33)
    I have both ATCO and ABM on my application form. After a base visit and speaking to some air traffic controllers they said that anything other than ABM- Weapons might be abit boring.

    Could you give me some info about the day to day jobs of n ABM specialising in surveillance or space please.
    Hi Jon,

    Thanks for your question, that's exactly the sort of myth I'm hoping to dispel! As a Surveillance specialist I can tell you that the job is far from boring! Don't get me wrong, as with any job there are boring aspects, but it can also be incredibly intense.

    Remember, I'm only speaking about the Officers in this forum - the Trade entry for Airmen is Trade Group 12 Air Surveillance Operative (TG12 ASOp) and they work very hard alongside the Officer and some Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) ABMs.

    Apologies for length, this is actually quite a big question to answer! Good start, Jon!

    First off, you need to know that for Weapons, Surveillance or Space you need particular aptitudes, which are different for each role. To generalise, Weapons Controllers are usually in charge of up to 4 aircraft and have to make decisions about the safety and conduct of those aircraft very quickly, with very little information. A Surveillance Officer typically has to deal with lots of different information, coming at them from different sources and systems and quickly fuse all the data and information to come to a correct solution. A Space operative's aptitude needs to be broadly similar to a Surveillance Officer's, but the job is subtly different.

    So, as a Surveillance Officer, once qualified you'll typically start your career as an Identification Officer (IDO) working in one of our Control and Reporting Centres (CRC), either at RAF Boulmer, or RAF Scampton. If you're at Boulmer you work a shift system, which means either a 12-hour day, or night, depending at which part of your cycle you are. During your shift you'll spend several periods on console in charge of producing the Recognized Air Picture (RAP). It will be your responsibility to make a threat assessment on every aircraft in your area of responsibility and assign it a category during that time. This is quite a big deal. During conflict the RAP is what our commanders use to make their decisions on which aircraft to engage. To put it another way - if a 9/11 situation happened in the UK, the IDO is the one who has to locate that aircraft on their RAP and assign the correct category. If it is a 9/11 scenario, commanders in the CRC will scramble live armed fighters to intercept and potentially shoot down a passenger airliner. If the IDO gets it wrong and has given the category to the wrong jet, they are ultimately responsible for a 'blue-on-blue', or in this situation, an immense tragedy. So there's a lot of responsibility! Don't worry, there's plenty of training before you get to this stage to make sure you get it right! That includes exercising the 9/11 scenario. During a shift you'll make this threat assessment hundreds of times and it becomes second nature - you'll get very good at spotting odd behaviour and flagging it to your commanders.

    When you're not on console, you'll spend your time being an officer. You may work on your secondary duties - these are things outside of your main role. So, for instance, it could mean organising what's now called Force Development for your troops and colleagues. This could be something like a team-building day where you go white-water rafting, to organising a four day exped to Wales for 40 people, which is what I'm doing at the moment. When you've been qualified for a while you may also become a Deputy Flight Commander and be in charge of a Flight along with a more experienced officer as the Flight Commander.

    Space Specialists are normally drawn from a Surveillance background, so you may have completed a tour, (also called a posting; they usually last 18 months to 2 years) before moving across streams. You'll be based at RAF Fylingdales as a Watch Commander. Your job there is to run a Watch of 4 personnel and to maintain the Space Picture as part of the US Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. Essentially, you have 60 seconds to detect, track and classify a launching object and then report it up the chain. We use what's called the SSPAR (Solid State Phased Array Radar), which has a range of 3000 miles, to do our bit. You'll be on a similar shift system to an IDO and outside of your normal working role you'll do your additional duties as Watch Commander, like reporting on your troop's performance and looking after their welfare, as well as other Secondary duties like I described above.

    There is more to it as well and lots of different roles to progress into, but I'm banging on now! Feel free to ask more questions.
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    (Original post by Schleigg)
    That sounds.... MAGIC! :p:

    I crack myself up sometimes.

    Nice one Schleigg

    Vizzini
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    Thanks for the reply, I don't know if this really fits under the ABM section but how do the aptitude tests/scores compare for this and ATCO? I've currently got ATCO, ABM and SNCO ATC on my application. I'm thinking if possible to have ATCO/SNCO ATC as my first choices with ABM as a backup however I'm guessing if your not too good on the ATC aptitude score your ABM score is likely to be the same?
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    Hi there, just to second the above post, I have an OASC on the 11th August, and am applying for ABM as first choice, I just wondered what the aptitude testing is like (I have the OASC handout that lists them but any inside knowledge would be much appreciated!) and if you know what we are expected to make concerning scores?

    Thanks for posting on here Vizzini, its a great help! Sounds like an awesome job cant wait for OASC!
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    Hi Vizzini, thanks for making yourself known on here ...hope you don't get too inundated with some of us overenthusiastic hopefuls!!

    I'm interested in ABM and currently have it a my second choice. could you shed some more light on the deployability of the role(s) of an ABM other than the brief mention on the AFCO printouts?

    thanks.
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    (Original post by jon33)
    Thanks for the reply, I don't know if this really fits under the ABM section but how do the aptitude tests/scores compare for this and ATCO? I've currently got ATCO, ABM and SNCO ATC on my application. I'm thinking if possible to have ATCO/SNCO ATC as my first choices with ABM as a backup however I'm guessing if your not too good on the ATC aptitude score your ABM score is likely to be the same?
    To be quite honest Jon, the aptitude scores are a bit of a dark art and something of a mystery to me. What I do know for certain is that up until the second half of last year the OASC aptitude score was 100 for ABM. I have heard that due to lack of numbers it may since have been lowered to 90. I have no idea how that compares to either of the ATC roles you've applied for I'm afraid, but you're correct that if you don't have aptitude for ATC, you probably won't have it for ABM either - OASC only test for Weapons aptitude, not Surveillance in any case, as the tests they base this on are the same for ATC and Weapons.

    As a branch we don't put too much faith in the OASC aptitude tests, precisely because they don't test aptitude for Surveillance. We run a further 6-week aptitude testing process ourselves for those who are selected ABM, on competion of IOT. This is called the ABM Foundation Course (ABMFC). It's three weeks of Surveillance lessons and testing through a simulated Surveillance task which gradually gets more and more intense. This is then followed by a further 3-weeks of lessons and simulated exercises concentrating on Weapons. This is not a pass/fail course - it is designed to test someeone's aptitude for either role and their trainability. We routinely accept into training people who have a marginal score for either task - I was one!

    What I will say is that if you have your heart set on either ATC or ABM - go for it and don't get hung up on aptitude scores! (Just as an aside, ATC forms part, just part, of a Weapons Controller's syllabus and skill set )
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    (Original post by -Sundance_Kid-)
    Hi there, just to second the above post, I have an OASC on the 11th August, and am applying for ABM as first choice, I just wondered what the aptitude testing is like (I have the OASC handout that lists them but any inside knowledge would be much appreciated!) and if you know what we are expected to make concerning scores?

    Thanks for posting on here Vizzini, its a great help! Sounds like an awesome job cant wait for OASC!
    Hi Sundance_Kid,

    Hopefully the post above will be of some help. As I say, the aptitude tests are just that. There's some preparation you can do, for instance getting fast fingers round a keyboard and there's some anecdotal evidence that playing certain types of computer game may help... It's a long time since I sat my aptitude (2002), so I'm a little rusty on what the specific tests are. There are a lot of myths - some people say the 'Matrix' test is the ABM test. Actually, there are several that test for Weapons aptitude and they are all weighted and scored differently! Like I said, it's a black art.

    Again, if you want it, go for it and hopefully I'll see you at Boulmer at some point in the future!
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    (Original post by zoot)
    Hi Vizzini, thanks for making yourself known on here ...hope you don't get too inundated with some of us overenthusiastic hopefuls!!

    I'm interested in ABM and currently have it a my second choice. could you shed some more light on the deployability of the role(s) of an ABM other than the brief mention on the AFCO printouts?

    thanks.
    Hi zoot,

    To be honest, I'm hoping to get inundated - we need you guys!

    To asnswer your question about deployability though - we do deploy to various locations for both training and operations and the type and length of deployment will depend on precisely what you're deploying to do.

    As a first tour-ist at the moment you can expect to complete at least one, possibly 2 operational deployments. As either a Weapons Controller or IDO you will more than likely spend 4 months in the Falkland Islands based at RAF Mount Pleasant working in 303 Signals Unit. There's still a substantial military presence there and has been ever since the conflict in 1982. You'll be working to provide Air Defence of the Islands and get to work very closely with the aricrew. To be honest, it's a fantastic tour as there are so many options to do extra-curriculars outside of work - such as battlefield tours, wildlife spotting (if you like penguins and sheep ) and adventure training. The main downside is that you're 8000 miles from home. There is a good welfare package in terms of internet access and phonecalls, as well as a very well-stocked library (DVDs, books and CDs). It's what you make of it really - I had a great time and learnt a lot from it.

    You may also do a 3-month deployment on Op HERRICK. You'll be working at Camp Bastion with No 1 Air Control Centre (No 1 ACC) and will either be controlling aircraft for close air support, tanking and the like, or producing a RAP and providing general aerospace battle management for the theatre, amongst other things. Again, this is a detachment (another word for deployment) with significant responsibility and a lot to learn from it. Clearly, there are less options for the 'extra-curriculars', Afghanistan not being as benign an environment as the Falklands.

    I also mentioned training options. At this level, Weapons Controllers (WCs) get to go and do a variety of 'mini-detachments'. You might get to go and work in Cyprus for up to 5 weeks for instance. Other examples are Lithuania, Gibraltar, Exercise MAPLE FLAG in Canada and the 3-week Tactical Leadership Course in Spain.

    All this is just for starters! As you get further into your career a whole range of options open up for tours and detatchments with the Army, the RAF's Joint Force Air Component Headquarters and lots more.
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    Thanks Vizzini, you explain it so much better than the AFCO printouts.

    What would you describe as the "pinnacle" of an ABM's career? To explain a bit further, I've spoken to several Engineering Officers and they all seem to agree that, for them, they seem to aspire to the role of SEngO, and would be quite happy to remain so. Is there a particular role/rank that ABM's like to aim for? If so, what is it?

    Zoot.
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    (Original post by Vizzini)
    To be quite honest Jon, the aptitude scores are a bit of a dark art and something of a mystery to me. What I do know for certain is that up until the second half of last year the OASC aptitude score was 100 for ABM. I have heard that due to lack of numbers it may since have been lowered to 90. I have no idea how that compares to either of the ATC roles you've applied for I'm afraid, but you're correct that if you don't have aptitude for ATC, you probably won't have it for ABM either
    It was still 100 as of mid-May for both ABM and ATC. With regard to similarities in skill sets, I had 119 for ATC, but 152 for ABM, so the aptitudes must have the potential to vary quite considerably - I was surprised there was such a difference, but there we go!

    Vizzini - either it was you I spoke to for info on the branch last month, or ABMers generally must be the most helpful, enthusiastic people in the whole RAF!

    FWIW Surveillance sounds far more interesting than Weapons ...
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    (Original post by zoot)
    What would you describe as the "pinnacle" of an ABM's career? To explain a bit further, I've spoken to several Engineering Officers and they all seem to agree that, for them, they seem to aspire to the role of SEegO, and would be quite happy to remain so. Is there a particular role/rank that ABM's like to aim for? If so, what is it?
    To get an office with a window. It is a strange world our mighty '3rd seat in the cockpit' bretheren occupy.
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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.
    Aah, finally! Thank you ProStacker, I was wondering who would bite first! As I sit in my office and gaze upon the rolling Northumberland countryside I also wonder about the sense of occupying a building with perfectly good windows and then blacking them out (Scampton)! Also, your banter is as up to date as most of the information I've seen around the bazaars about us. I think you'll find that with Typhoon coming online we're now the second seat...

    (Original post by zoot)
    What would you describe as the "pinnacle" of an ABM's career? To explain a bit further, I've spoken to several Engineering Officers and they all seem to agree that, for them, they seem to aspire to the role of SEngO, and would be quite happy to remain so. Is there a particular role/rank that ABM's like to aim for? If so, what is it?
    Glad you asked, zoot. In terms of a day-to-day/operational role that would probably be Master Controller (MC). This is usually a Squadron Leader post and can be filled by either a Weapons or Surveillance specialist. The career progression is either WC to Fighter Allocator (FA) to MC, or IDO to Surveillance Director (SD) to MC.

    The MC is responsible for the tactical direction and management of the NATO and national Quick Reaction Alert (Interceptor) (QRA(I)) force. Essentially, they are in charge of a CRC's day to day operations and they are the person who gives the scramble order to the fighters (the QRA) to intercept a threat/hijacked aircraft. Beneath the MC in the CRC's command chain are 2 other executives, the FA and the SD.

    The FA is responsible for managing the UK's Air Defence flying program on a daily basis and the tactical managment of UK Military Air Defence training areas. They can also supervise up to 4 concurrent controllers and their sorties, or a single QRA sortie, if airborne, to maintain flight safety for all the players involved.

    The SD, meanwhile, is in overall charge of the production of the RAP, so they have oversight of the IDOs and the rest of the Surveillance team. They are also the manager for all the various systems that contribute the information that allows the IDO to produce the RAP, including digital links to Continental Early Warning sites, AWACS aircraft and the Navy and so on.

    Some people are quite happy to stop at this level, while others then progress onto higher command and disappear into the 'adminisphere'!

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    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?
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    (Original post by Theo1977)
    It was still 100 as of mid-May for both ABM and ATC. With regard to similarities in skill sets, I had 119 for ATC, but 152 for ABM, so the aptitudes must have the potential to vary quite considerably - I was surprised there was such a difference, but there we go!

    Vizzini - either it was you I spoke to for info on the branch last month, or ABMers generally must be the most helpful, enthusiastic people in the whole RAF!

    FWIW Surveillance sounds far more interesting than Weapons ...
    Thanks for that Theo. Like I said, the scores are a bit of a mystery to me. I have been told that the tests are all weighted differently and that might account for the disparity in your scores as you say, I suppose.

    I'm not sure if we've spoken - you'll have to PM me to elaborate, however, if it was up in Edinburgh and I didn't have red hair and wasn't female, then yes, it probably was me! If not, we're clearly just very helpful people.

    I have to say that both roles are interesting, challenging, dull and intense at the same time, just in different ways. I'm biased, clearly and I haven't really elaborated about the Weapons side that much, which may be why. However, if that's just your bag, go fo it. I preferred it right from the start, but then they were never going to let me control anything! Something to do with relative motion and an inability to perceive it on a computer screen...:eek:

    Weaponeers are sometimes portrayed as having higher capacity or mental agility than Surveillance. I disagree on the mental agility side - both roles require it, however, Surveillance doesn't require the ability to do lots of maths, quickly, whilst working out where your aircraft are going to be in the next 10 seconds and simultaneously giving them a 'voice picture' of what's happening around them as well as providing them with an Air Traffic Service. Surveillance is probably more about being analytical and just plain nosy ('Why's it doing that?') and I definitely like being nosy:p:

    Clearly the ability to percieve relative motion is quite important when you've got 2 aircraft heading toward one another at 600kts (combined closing speed of 1200kts - that's roughly 3 miles closer to each other every 10 seconds :eek3: ) You also need to be able to think in 3d, because your aircraft will be at different heights for safety reasons, when training, or for tactical reasons when fighting. You may, depending on the situation, have a package of up to 40 aircraft... :eek: It's even more intense on operations. Sound a bit more interesting now?
 
 
 
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