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.
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
This role is known as Operator Unmanned Aerial System within the Army.
Employment Category Number (ECN): 250
Employment Category: Combat
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Join the ADF with appropriate high school passes
Preparing for Your Recruitment Process
This document provides information that will assist applicants for roles in the Navy, Army and Air Force, including details about the recruitment process, how to prepare yourself for assessment, and what to expect if you are successful in joining the Australian Defence Force.
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 your salary you'll receive a variety of allowances, extra pay for relevant qualifications – plus 16.4% superannuation, a far higher rate than you're likely to find in the civilian world.
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.
Applicants must be at least 17 years of age and able to complete the Initial Minimum Period of Service before reaching Compulsory Retirement Age (60).
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.
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.
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.
Online Aptitude Testing (OAT) is completed as part of the application process to join the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Some jobs may also require you to complete additional testing at a later date.
OAT is used by Defence to establish suitability for ADF entry, and then identify jobs that best match your abilities.
Further information about OAT can be found in the Guide to Online Aptitude Testing for the ADF.
To get a feel for the types of questions that are used in an Online Aptitude Test and how they will look on your screen some examples can be found in the Online Aptitude Testing Example Questions.
To serve in the ADF you must be an Australian Citizen.
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.
The Department of Defence requires ADF employees to have a security clearance appropriate to their employment.
A process of background checks, collection of relevant information and if required, interviews, enables the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) 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 (NV1), and current policy requires applicants to have a checkable background for the previous 10 years.
This means applicants must provide credible referees (non-family members) who are able to provide information about the applicant covering an extended period of time. Required information for an NV1 includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Financial information
Some ADF jobs may require a higher level of security clearance such as Negative Vetting Level 2 (NV2) or Positive Vetting (PV). Your individual circumstances will determine the number and complexity of the questions and the supporting documents required for these levels.
Australian Citizenship is a requirement for a security clearance and a clearance will only be granted to a non-citizen in exceptional circumstances.
The security clearance is critical to an applicant's successful progression through the recruiting process. It is strongly recommended that all applicants action the Security Clearance Package (ePack) and provide the required documentation without delay to provide the best opportunity to commence training and be employed in their preferred employment category.
For more detailed information on the security vetting process and specific clearance level requirements set by AGSVA, please refer to the AGSVA website.
Support will be provided by DFR during the initial application process.
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.
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.