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As an Air Warfare Specialist your primary role is to operate the P-8A Poseidon’s highly advanced sensor systems to collect and analyse information.

  • 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 operate the P-8A Poseidon’s highly advanced sensor systems to collect and analyse information. This involves the effective use of the specialised on board systems including; the Radar, Electro-Optics, Electronic Warfare suite, and Acoustic Warfare suite.

Your role will include processing and analysing information gathered from the sensors before presenting it to the crew to aid in the tactical employment of the aircraft. You will be involved in a range of mission types including; Search and Rescue, Fisheries and Border Patrols, Airborne Surveillance, Military Operations, and Military Exercises. 

You will also be expected to carry out a number of on board aircrew duties including; human and crew resource management, mission support, stores loading and employment, system fault-finding, 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 Corporal Qualifying Course to confirm your rank as Acting Corporal. You’ll then complete Aviation Medicine, and Aircrew Survival courses before posting to 42 Squadron to complete a 5 week Combined Non-Commissioned Officer Aircrew Course, covering generic aircrew subjects. You will then be posted to 5 Squadron to begin training as an Air Warfare Specialist.

As part of the Operational Conversion Course, your training as an AWS will consist of a 10 month course at RNZAF Base Ohakea covering; general aircraft safety precautions, security, communication systems, Radar theory, and system operation. The training consists of both ground and flying based instruction, and culminates in a ‘First Voyage’ consolidating the course’s training. Upon completion of the Operational Conversion Course you will be awarded your Air Warfare Brevet and begin operational flying aboard the P-8A Poseidon.

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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:

Access to your Service marae or tūrangawaewae

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Opportunities to travel

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Subsidised food and accommodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

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 certificate.

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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