Air Combat Systems Officer
What They Do
Air Combat Systems Officers plan, coordinate and direct the missions of aircraft and crew. They manage the operation of precision tactical navigation systems, sophisticated sensors, communication systems, electronic warfare equipment and weapon delivery systems.
Air Combat Systems Officers often direct and coordinate the tactical activities of other units. They lead a variety of missions, including:
- Search and Rescue
- Anti-Submarine Operations
- Maritime Surface Surveillance and Targeting
- Sovereignty and Fisheries Patrols
- Counter-Narcotics Operations
- Tactical Airlift
- Air-to-Air Refueling
- Humanitarian Relief
- Combined Operations with Foreign Militaries
- Electronic Warfare Training and Support
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operations
Air Combat Systems Officers work in a variety of roles at operational flying units across Canada and as instructors. On deployed operations, they work from airfields around the world. They may also support the Royal Canadian Navy and flying from ships at sea. Experienced Air Combat Systems Officers assist in the formulation of strategic and operational policies and plans, determine air requirements and set standards. They may also work in an international headquarters, on multi-national staff or mission.
The starting salary for a fully-trained Air Combat Systems Officer is $51,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer. Once promoted to the rank of Captain their salary is approximately $73,000. Air Combat Systems Officers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.
Related Civilian Occupations
Although this occupation has no direct related civilian job, the management, leadership and instructing skills developed in this position are highly valued by employers.
Basic Military Officer Qualification
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Forces, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.
Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.
Air Combat Systems Officers continue to an on-the-job training placement with an operational Air Wing in Canada. You will learn the role of the Air Wing and the units that support the Wing’s flying operations by participating in crew briefings, and both training and operational flights on Maritime Helicopter, Long-Range Patrol and Air Transport operations.
Air Combat Systems Officers attend the Canadian Forces School of Survival and Aeromedical Training in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In order to prepare you for the roles and responsibilities of the Air Combat Systems Officer, you must successfully complete three courses which are designed to introduce you to the unique challenges of working as a member of an aircrew. The courses are:
- Aeromedical Training, which details the physiological effects of high altitude operations, and the operation of oxygen supply systems used on military aircraft
- Basic Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape course
- Air Operations Sea Survival, which takes place at the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue in Comox, British Columbia.
Further training on the specific duties of the Air Combat Systems Officer takes place at the Canadian Forces Flying Training School in Winnipeg. You will receive training in meteorology, basic and advanced navigation, guidance and control systems, electronics, communications, tactical employment of aircraft, and weapons systems. This training takes place in the classroom, in the simulator, and in aircraft.
Air Combat Systems Officers, after successful completion of Professional Training, proceed to an Operation Training Unit to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, in order to qualify as crew members on specific aircraft types, including:
- Long Range Patrol
- Maritime Helicopter
- Search and Rescue
- Electronic Warfare
- Air-to-Air Refueling
- Uninhabited Air Vehicle
- Instructional Techniques
As they progress in their career, Air Combat Systems Officers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced and graduate training.
If you already have a university degree, the Forces will decide if your academic program matches the criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.
Regular Officer Training Plan
Because this position requires a university degree, the Forces will pay successful recruits to complete a Bachelor degree program at a Canadian university. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full-pay in exchange for working with the Forces for a period of time. Typically, candidates enter the Canadian Military College System as an Officer Cadet where they study subjects relevant to both their military and academic career. In some instances, the Forces is able to pay for Officer Cadets to attend other Canadian universities in a relevant degree program. Officer Cadets who attend other Canadian universities typically attend university during the regular academic year and participate in additional military training during the summer months. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the Forces and the Canadian university of your choice. For more information, click on Paid University.
A Career with the Reserves
This position is available for part-time employment through the Reserves. Reservists generally work part-time for a Reserve unit in their community. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Reservists train with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required professional standards of the job. If additional training is required in order to specialize skills, arrangements will be made by the home unit.
It is also possible to set up an “Individual Learning Plan” to take courses leading to a university degree related to this job, and upon successful completion, be reimbursed for up to 50% of tuition and other mandatory costs. Education fees for successfully completed courses are reimbursed as long as the student was a Reservist during the entire duration of the course.
Typically, Reservists work or train with their home unit for at least four evenings and one weekend per month, from September to May of each year. They are paid 85% of Regular Force rates of pay and receive a reasonable benefits package.