Air Surveillance Operator

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An outstanding opportunity to make a direct impact on the nation's defence by working on some of the most sophisticated radar equipment in Australia.

Job Details

Air Force Air Surveillance Operators (ASOPs) use sophisticated electronic equipment to detect, classify and identify aircraft and surface vessels within a specified area of operations. Day to day this is conducted for Australian airspace and its approaches for reasons of illegal incursions to our sovereign territory. On exercise or operations, Air Surveillance Operators establish and maintain an up-to-date and complete picture of air and surface activities using a network of radars and intelligence systems.

Air Surveillance Operators are part of No 41 Wing (41WG) within the Surveillance and Response Group (SRG).

There are two main areas of employment for Air Surveillance Operators.


An Australian designed and built Over the Horizon Radar (OTHR) system allows long range surveillance coverage of Northern Australia and its approaches. Three of these radars form the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN). ASOPs are employed extensively at No 1 Radar Surveillance Unit (1RSU) within the JORN system and are trained to operate radar systems, technologically advanced computers, advanced display systems, extensive communications systems (including satellite data links), and intelligence equipment.


Using an array of microwave radars and a suite of intelligence systems, No 3 Control and Reporting Unit (3CRU), and No 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit (114MCRU) prepare the Australian Air Picture which is used for Air Battle Management operations and disseminated to other RAAF, RAN and Australian Army units. These units utilise the Eastern Regional Operations Centre (EASTROC) and the Northern Region Operations Centre (NORTHROC) to achieve this capability. In addition, both units are capable of deploying their ground based radar for domestic radar operations. 114MCRU also provides a comprehensive mobile capability capable of being deployed to remote offshore locations.


Due to the nature and complexity of the ASOP job, shift-work is often required and team work is essential, especially when on deployment. All members should be prepared for temporary duties at any location when placed on specialist training courses, assigned exercise duty, or when required as relief/reinforced manning at another unit.


Here are just a few examples of an ASOP's areas of responsibility, however there are many more. The duties and work schedule of an ASOP are rotated on a regular basis; in fact junior ASOPs may perform a variety of three or four in a single day.

Picture Manager (PICMAN). PICMANs set up and operate tactical computer displays and Intelligence systems, working with other sections to classify and identify aircraft.

Intelligence Operator (INTOP). INTOPs aid the production of the overall air picture by communicating with external agencies and using data entry, manipulation of a Graphical User Interface and recording of information.

Over The Horizon Radar Detection and Tracking Operator (ODTO). ODTOs interpret and analyse information received from an Over the Horizon Radar to detect and track air and surface targets in order to develop an air/sea picture of Australia’s approaches. ODTOs also operate supplemental surveillance and intelligence gathering equipment.

Tactical Data Link Operator (TDLOP). Provides a Networking Capability with allied forces via secure data transmission services. Transfers battle space information to assets and commanders in order to allow comprehensive situational awareness of a given Area of Operations.

Selected ASOPs may also be employed as instructors at the Surveillance and Control Training Unit (SACTU).