About the Job

Like to see what others can't? Then you'll love operating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) - the Army's remote control spy planes. As a Drone Operator (Surveillance Aircraft Operator) (ECN 250), you'll operate a UAV to be the eyes and ears of the battlefield. It's an exciting and rewarding job, as the information you gather will be used to keep the troops on the ground safe and up to date on the enemy threat in their area.

You'll be trained on the theory of flight and how to identify weather conditions that affect your ability to fly. You'll be trained to work as part of a crew to operate the surveillance suite (cameras both day and night) and control the aircraft in flight. As part of the crew you will gather and distribute information to assist commanders in accurately directing their units through any danger areas.

It's a mentally and physically challenging role, so you'll need to be a multi-skilled team player with excellent problem solving, a technical aptitude and effective communication skills. A Drone Operator is a valuable member in combat situations. You'll find great opportunities to travel around Australia and abroad, while being primarily based in Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Queensland in close proximity to the city of Brisbane.

Your duties:

The duties listed below are those that you could be expected to perform, but note that not all duties are performed in each position:

  • Operate UAVs to observe the battle space
  • Gather vital information to enable tactical decision making
  • Observe meteorological data which would affect the UAV in flight
  • Liaise with air traffic control to maintain safe flying conditions
  • Have the ability to assist in flight planning and briefings
  • Control the UAV in airspace with other manned and unmanned aircraft
  • Operation of individual and crew served combat weapons
  • Assist in the defence of ground troops; and
  • General soldiering duties, such as manning defensive positions, patrolling, camouflaging of vehicles and field equipment, and navigation

Key Information

Salary & Allowances

In the Army you'll get paid a good salary from day one regardless of your age, experience or qualifications; and your pay increases as you progress through training.

In addition to base pay you'll receive a variety of allowances - which are detailed below - plus superannuation at a far higher rate than you're likely to find in the civilian world.


For more details download our Salary Scales.

Read our Conditions of Service.


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Locations

Drone Operators are employed with Surveillance and Target Acquisition Battery, with its Headquarters in Brisbane, Queensland and across Australia in each of the Gun Regiments at a Drone Operators Section, and at the School of Artillery at Puckapunyal VIC.


Requirements

Age

Applicants must be aged between 17 and 55 years of age inclusive on day of entry.

Applicants will not be allowed to enter the ADF until they achieve a minimum of 17 years of age, however they may be able to initiate the application process from 16 years and six months of age, depending upon the capacity of their local recruiting centre.

Education & Experience

Completion of Australian Year 10 education (or equivalent) with passes in English and Mathematics.

Medical & Fitness

To be enlisted or appointed, you must be medically and physically fit for entry to your chosen occupation. This is partially assessed from the completion of an extensive questionnaire covering your medical history, followed by a physical examination.

You will also be required to successfully pass a physical fitness test before appointment.

For further details on medical and physical fitness standards refer to Physical Fitness Standards for Entry into the ADF and Medical Process for Entry into the ADF.

Period of Service

You will be enlisted for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of four years. Subsequent periods of service may be offered subject to the requirements of the ADF and your suitability for further service. You may request discharge at any time provided you do not have an outstanding IMPS obligation.

If you have only received partial recognition of your qualifications, you will be advised of the Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) after the Recognition of Prior Learning/Recognition of Current Competencies process is complete. The IMPS will be between four and seven years.

Aptitude

The application process to join the Australian Defence Force requires you to complete a series of aptitude tests which may include verbal, spatial and numerical ability and a general maths test. Some jobs may also require you to complete additional testing at a later date.

Psychology support staff will explain what is involved with each test.

The aptitude tests provide information about your suitability for the Defence Force and for particular jobs. Defence Force Recruiting can then help you identify jobs that best match your abilities.

Further information on the aptitude testing requirements can be found here.

Citizenship

Only Australian Citizens are permitted to serve in the ADF.

If you are a permanent resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary deferral of the citizenship requirement if the position for which you are applying cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all the citizenship requirements, and then only in exceptional circumstances. You will be required to obtain Australian Citizenship as early as possible following enlistment or appointment.

Find out more in our Citizenship page or ask your local Defence Force Recruiting Centre.

Security Requirements

The Department of Defence requires ADF employees to have security clearances appropriate to their employment.

A process of background checks, collection of relevant information and, as required, interviews, enables the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency to make an informed assessment of an applicant's suitability for a security clearance.

The minimum security clearance level required is Negative Vetting Level 1, and current policy requires applicants to have a checkable background for the previous 10 years. Required information includes:

  • Residence
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Credit

Australian Citizenship is a requirement for a security clearance and a clearance will only be granted to a non-citizen in exceptional circumstances.

NOTE: The security clearance is critical to an applicants successful progression through the Army training system. If an applicant is unable to obtain the required security clearance in time, they will not be allowed to continue their training and may need to be re-allocated to another employment category. As such, it is strongly recommended that all applicants obtain the required documentation as soon as possible to provide the best opportunity to be employed in their preferred employment category.

Training

Military Training

All General Entry recruits into the Australian Regular Army are required to complete the Recruit Course.

Total Duration: 80 days.

Location: Kapooka, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Recruit training is the same for male and female entrants. During the 80 day Army Recruit Course you will be required to take part in physical training, weapon handling and shooting, first aid, drill and field craft. The training is deliberately challenging and has been designed to prepare you to be a soldier in today's Army. Recruits gain a sense of achievement, purpose and confidence during basic training, and on completion of the course feel justifiably proud of what they have achieved.

Further information is also available at the Army Recruit Training Centre website.

During Military (Initial Recruit) Training and (Initial) Employment Training, members may be required to pay a contribution towards meals, accommodation and utilities.

Employment Training

Basic Combat Communications Course

Location: School of Artillery, Puckapunyal in Central Victoria.

Duration: 6 days, not including weekends.

RAA Common Induction Training

Location: School of Artillery, Puckapunyal.

Duration: 12 days, not including weekends.

Operator Unmanned Aerial Systems course

Consists of 2 phases with total training duration of 21 weeks as follows:

Initial Employment Training Phase 1

Location: School of Artillery, Puckapunyal.

Duration: 8 weeks.

Initial Employment Training Phase 2

Location: 20th Surveillance and Target Acquisition Regiment, Brisbane.

Duration: 13 weeks.

Note: Course duration may vary depending on public holidays and other Army requirements.