Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator
Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators use advanced electronic sensor systems to operate airborne sensors onboard long-range patrol aircraft, maritime helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.
They are responsible for detecting and tracking submarines, providing support for search and rescue operations/medical evacuations, and assisting other government departments and agencies in the collection of evidence and counter-narcotics patrols.
Their primary technical functions are to:
- Operate radar, electro-optic/Infrared systems, magnetic anomaly detection, and electronic warfare equipment
- Take airborne photography
- Load and arm airborne weapons, and search stores systems
- Operate the helicopter-mounted machine gun system
- Operate unmanned aerial vehicle electronic sensor systems
- Communicate with internal and external agencies; both civilian and Allied forces
- Collect evidence
Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators normally work onboard aircraft; however they may also work on airbase flight lines, on ship flight decks and with operational ground support combat groups. They are usually stationed at bases on the East and West coasts of Canada. They deploy worldwide, in support of Canadian and Allied countries’ operations and exercises.
Pay and career development
The starting salary for a fully trained Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Initially, they are members of a 20-person Aurora crew, a four-person maritime helicopter crew, or a five-person unmanned aerial vehicle mission team, where they are responsible for the operational readiness of their equipment and contribute to tactical decisions. As they gain knowledge and experience, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators may be called upon to lead a crew, help plan operations and train new crew members. Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.
Related civilian occupations
- Airborne Radar Operator
- Airborne Survey Operator
- Law Enforcement Thermographer
Basic military qualification
The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.
Basic occupational qualification training
Following Environmental Training, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators attend eight-week basic occupational qualification training at 17 Wing in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Training includes the following basic skills:
- Theory of flight
- Electro-magnetic spectrum
- Electronic sensor theory
- Airfield operations
Flying training, which also takes place at 17 Wing over 16 weeks, takes place onboard the CT-142 aircraft and covers the following topics:
- Communication theory and practice
- Airborne radar operations
- Airborne navigation
- Identifying targets using electronic warfare equipment and electro-optic/infrared sensors
Operational flight training takes approximately 24 weeks and is required for Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators to specialize their skills. Training takes place onboard maritime helicopters at 12 Wing in Shearwater, Nova Scotia, or on long-range patrol aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles at 14 Wing in Greenwood, Nova Scotia.
As they progress in their career, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:
- Advanced electronic warfare
- Advanced electronic intelligence analysis
- Instructional techniques
- Leadership and management specialty training
- Acoustic operator training
- Airborne operational test and evaluation training
- Project management training
- Advanced survival, escape and evasion
- Law enforcement thermography training
The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for a high school diploma in Canada including Grade 10 Academic Math or Math 426 or 436 in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.
This occupation is available part-time within the following environment: Air Force
Serve with the Reserve Force
This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force wing in their community. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve with aircrews from CAF locations within Canada.
Reserve Force training
This occupation is only open to members of the Regular Force who have been trained as Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators and wish to transfer to the Reserve Force or former military members who have the Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator qualification.
Air Reserve members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts and are employed in the same unit and perform the same job. Air Reserve members usually serve up to 12 days per month in a regular work day, with opportunities to serve full-time for short durations as needed. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.
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