Home' Air Force News : April 29th 2010 Contents 14
Candidates must have com-
pleted Year 12 English; South
Australian applicants must
have year 11 English and a
pass in a language-rich sub-
ject in Year 12, tertiary-level
mathematics plus two other
If a physical science subject is
not included in those two sub-
jects at Year 12, a pass in year
11 in Physics or Chemistry
or a multi-strand science is
Candidates must meet the ACO
aptitude standards criteria
conducted at Defence Force
Recruiting, a general ability test
and a mathematical ability test.
Candidates must meet the air-
crew medical standard.
Candidates considered poten-
tially suitable will then appear
before the ACO selection
Candidates must demonstrate
they are highly-motivated, able
to think three-dimensionally,
are strong in mathematics, able
to think on their feet and deal
effectively with dynamic situa-
tions as they arise.
Candidates assessed as suit-
able will then be considered by
for course vacanices.
Training comprises the initial
course of 30 weeks and the 16-
week streamed course.
The initial course covers basic
airmanship, air battle manage-
ment, air warfare, mission
command, campaign planning,
and emergency procedures and
HOW TO BECOME AN ACO
ACO eyes o
Air Combat Officer (ACO)
hopefuls have a long road
ahead of them before they
obtain the coveted brevets,
even before they start the
course at the School of Air Warfare
They are required to meet stringent
educational and personal standards as
well as the aircrew medical standard
and then decide what stream of ACO
they would like to pursue.
Streaming is determined firstly by
Air Force requirements, then aptitude
and finally their preference.
There are three streams; Air Battle
Management (ABM), Maritime Patrol
and Response (MPR) and Air Combat
and Combat Air Lift (ACCAL).
And, having won a place, there is no
guarantee they will make it through the
Three new RAAF ACOs have now
taken their place after graduating from
the intensive 6 ACO course on March
26.OFFCDTs Kellie Davis and Slade
Whitfield (ABM), and PLTOFF Joseph
Mack (MPR) are the successful
graduates from the eight RAAF officers
who commenced the course in April
Also to graduate was OFFCDT
Michael Burns (ACCAL). He graduated
on April 22.
The course comprised two parts;
the first was the 30-week ACO Initial
Course, followed by 16 weeks of
specialist training in their chosen
SAW conducted their Initial Course
from April 6 to October 26 last year.
The ABM stream training was
delivered by the Surveillance and
Control Training Unit (SACTU) at RAAF
Base Williamtown. SAW delivered the
MPR and ACCAL stream training at
RAAF Base East Sale.
The students then earned their
brevets after completing their
For the ABM stream, their task was
to control five real-time two versus two
The students were based at the
Eastern Regional Operations Centre
at Williamtown and controlled aircraft
flown by 75SQN at RAAF Base Tindal
and other F/A-18s flown by 3SQN out
Meanwhile, the MPR and ACCAL
students deployed to RAAF Base
Townsville with three 32SQN King Air
aircraft and some SAW instructional
staff and students.
According to FLTLT Murray
Newberry, the student's course
commander, the MPR scenario required
each student to act as a mission
commander in a highly dynamic
"It is a consolidation of all facets
of their ACO course," FLTLT Newberry
The scenario called for an aircraft
to collect an intelligence officer in
Gladstone and then proceed on a
low-level overwater track surveillance
The final phase was a visual
navigation exercise flown through the
Whitsunday Islands before the student
returned to Townsville.
The aim of the ACCAL scenario
was to test the students in planning
and executing a short notice task
to achieve a mission aim under any
weather conditions while operating
from an unfamiliar airfield.
Each ACCAL student was given an
Air Tasking Order for a short notice
task that had to be planned and then
executed within a specific time frame.
"The mission involved a coordinated
reconnaissance of two targets, with
threats enroute, while operating to
a time on target window of +/- 30
seconds," FLTLT Newberry said.
"The sortie involves Visual and
Instrument Flight Rules and systems
navigation with most of the mission
flown at 250 feet Above Ground Level
They flew from and returned to
Townsville, and conducted the mission
over a large area of North Queensland.
PLTOFF Whitfield enlisted in the
Air Force in July 2008 and decided to
become an ACO because of the broad
range of opportunities it offered.
"Not many other occupations have
common skillsets amidst such an array
of different jobs," he said.
"This is best highlighted in the ABM
stream where the range of day-to-
day jobs you can be involved in over
an entire career is massive."
He found the course both
challenging and exciting, particularly
after starting the ABM stream course.
"It was a big step up from
the common course, going from
controlling one aircraft to controlling
multiple aircraft against multiple
He described his final mission
as: "Excellent, a real eye opener for
what it's going to be like in our future
careers and [it] put everything we had
been working towards over the last
year into context."
FLTLT Newberry said that the
members of 6 ACO were a very tight-
knit group that socialised together
outside work and spent much of their
down time at work studying as a group.
"A course as demanding and
long as the ACO course sets the
graduates in good stead to move on to
their operational conversions and into
the airborne environment as mission
commanders and professional war
fighters," he said.
"Finally, CO SAW would like to
acknowledge the great efforts of the
staff at both SAW and SACTU for their
efforts in helping to graduate the
students of 6 ACO Course."
WATER VIEW: Back image, a King Air from RAAF
Base Townsville flies low over the Great Barrier
Reef during a student's graduation flight.
What does it take to become an air combat officer?
Andrew Stackpool follows the latest course to find out.
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