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Air Weapons Control Officer


The modern military benefits from its air forces. Helicopters, transport planes, and small fighter aircraft each play a role in times of war and peace. But without the air weapons control officers, those aircraft carrying weapons just might fire on the wrong target, or lose their way home.

Air weapons control officers work from the ground as well as in the air, identifying and tracking airborne objects. They guide the aircraft on their side, and monitor the crafts on the opposing side. They use radar and other electronic systems to both locate aircraft and jam hostile radar and communications. They interpret coded electronic displays, as well. As officers, they are also the supervisors and directors of lower-ranking members of the air force, and must assist, plan, and oversee the welfare and activities of their staff.

They work in a number of positions. Some work exclusively with computer programming, while others might work at international headquarters, or as commanders of aerospace control detachments. The longer they stick with the job, and the more dedicated they are to the field of air weapons control, the more opportunities that arise.

Air weapons control officers have an important position within the armed forces. Not only do they help guide pilots to their military objective, but they help direct planes full of aid relief, wounded soldiers, and rescued civilians who need to get out of harm's way.
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  Interests and Skills  
The American military looks for people who are loyal, comfortable following rules and order, courageous, and proud of their country. An air weapons control officer must have integrity and they should be fair, honest, and diligent workers, who don't shy away from hard, messy work. They should have respect for other cultures and belief systems, and able to adjust to change in environment easily and without complaint. A professional attitude, good observation skills, and a good memory are also assets to the air weapons control officer, as is the ability to speak two or more languages. Above all, they must have a genuine interest in helping all members of the international community.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Monitor enemy planes
  • Scramble or jam enemy communications
  • Direct American or allied planes during times or war and peace
  • Break codes
  • Supervise and direct officers in training
  • Assume responsibility for welfare, morale and discipline of units
  • Review and evaluate unit performance, prepare reports and provide briefings for superiors
  • The typical day involves directing and monitoring planes through radar and other electronic devices, analyzing code, and watching the skies for unexpected aircraft. They can do this in war zones or from the US during times of peace. They travel around the world, but not always for pleasant reasons. They meet all sorts of people, from all walks of life.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Members of the American military are at work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and in active service anywhere and everywhere in the world. Depending on the military operations at the time, military officers may find themselves working within humanitarian operations, war, peacemaking or peace keeping missions. They could be living and working in a base community in Tennessee, or may be living and working away from their families, in traumatic, ravaged areas. They will work outdoors, in all kinds of weather and climate conditions. They will be indoors, working in nice offices or dark, cramped, bombed-out offices. They work in control towers, underground, in planes, or on ships. The work environment can be stressful, and requires physical as well as mental fitness.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Air weapons control officers who want to leave the military for a more civilian existence can apply their knowledge and skill to work as an air traffic controller, air transport ramp attendant, or railway and maritime traffic control. They can also train to become pilots, or advance to more senior positions within the army, should they choose to stay in service.

  Educational Paths  
The path to becoming an air weapons control officer begins with completing a high school diploma, passing a medical exam and a series of interviews and tests. At that point individuals can pursue a university degree on their own, or they can attend university as an officer in training, which means the military sponsors their education. Then, they go through basic training, a 13-week course that teaches history, fitness, and leadership. Upon successful completion of this job training, they will be granted a license authorizing them to control live traffic. Once they have been certified as a control officer, they will be ready to start their first assignment as an air weapons control officer.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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