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As an Air Warfare Specialist your primary role is to utilise the P-3K2 Orion’s highly advanced sensor systems to collect and analyse information in the aircraft’s area of interest.

  • Service
    Air Force
  • Specialisation
  • Location
  • Starting Trade Training
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About the role

As an Air Warfare Specialist your primary role is to utilise the P-3K2 Orion’s highly advanced sensor systems to collect and analyse information in the aircraft’s area of interest. To achieve this, you’ll be responsible for the effective operation of a number of high-tech onboard systems including the radar, electronic surveillance, electro-optics, magnetic anomaly detector and acoustic sensor systems.

Your role will include processing, analysing, classifying and filtering the information gathered prior to it being used by your fellow crew members to aid in the tactical employment of our aircraft and to guide civilian and military response units. You will be involved in a range of tasks including Search and Rescue Operations, Military Operations, Fisheries Patrols, Airborne Surveillance and Military Exercises.

You will also be expected to carry out tasks common to all aircrew positions, including flying support, human and crew resource management, teamwork, mission support, and aircraft-related tasks such as monitoring of aircraft systems and emergency procedures.

The great thing about my role is you get to work in a crew. You get to be cohesive as a group of people; grow, develop and learn together.

Daniel Ross-Murphy


Career progression and training

Basic Training

Job Training

(12 weeks) Location: RNZAF base Woodbourne (near Blenheim)

Upon successful enlistment into the Air Force you’ll be posted to RNZAF Base Woodbourne (near Blenheim). Here you’ll do 12 weeks of basic military training to find out if you’ve got what it takes to be in the Air Force, and learn various subjects including:

  • Organisation and Administration
  • RNZAF Customs and Protocol
  • Drill and Parades
  • Military Field Skills and Weapon Training
  • First Aid, and Search and Rescue Techniques
  • Physical Fitness

Following 12 weeks basic military training at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, you’ll be required to pass a four-week Corporal Qualifying Course to confirm your rank as Acting Corporal. You’ll then be posted to 42 SQN to complete an 8 week Combined Non-Commissioned Officer Aircrew Course, covering generic aircrew subjects as well as Aviation Medicine and Survival training. You will then be posted to 5 SQN to begin training in your specialist role as an Air Warfare Specialist.

As part of the Orion Conversion Course, your training as an AWS will consist of a nine-month residential course at RNZAF Base Auckland covering general aircraft safety precautions and emergency procedures, security, computer management, data handling systems, communications, radar theory and systems and electro optics. Your flying is carried out on a P-3K2 Orion aircraft and your training will culminate with a First Voyage, where you will conduct tasking and training in the Pacific.

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Salary and benefits

Careers in the Air Force are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.


Under Initial Training


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Benefits and allowances

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Access to subsidised equipment on camp and bases

Subsidised food on camps and bases

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Subsidised accomodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Opportunities to travel

Competitive superannuation

Entry requirements



Fitness and medical


Period of Service

  • You must be 17 years or older.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain TSV security clearance for this trade.

Minimum: NCEA Level 2 with a minimum of 12 credits in each Level 2 English, Mathematics and a Science subject.

To be competitive: NCEA Level 3.

Find out more about the NCEA levels and certificate requirements

  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required TSV security clearance for this trade.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

There may be a return of service period for this trade.

Please contact our 0800 number or talk to your Candidate Experience Facilitator for more information.


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