BogiDope, F-16 from the South Carolina ANG in-flight.

How to Get an OTS Rated Slot – Part 1

If you want to be an Active Duty Pilot or other rated position in the US Air Force, this article is for you. We’ll be going over the process of applying to Officer Training School (OTS) and obtaining a rated slot. This is the most direct method of becoming an Active Duty flyer since ROTC and the Air Force Academy both require you to participate as a cadet during college and neither of those methods allow you to secure a slot for a specific position before committing to serve. This article is written for those who are applying as civilians (including those who have prior service). The process is slightly different for those who are currently enlisted – those in that category should consult the official BOT Application Guide (available on MyPers) for detailed instructions on applying.

What Are Rated Positions?

“Rated” refers to an aeronautical Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) with job duties which entail the piloting of aircraft and/or the operation or aircraft systems/sensors. Other AFSCs are simply categorized as “non-rated” and are generally applied to via separate selection boards, although recently the Air Force has begun to hold OTS selection boards which select for rated and non-rated positions simultaneously. There are currently 4 rated AFSC types: Pilot, Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Pilot, Combat Systems Officer (CSO), and Air Battle Manager (ABM). Descriptions of each type are below.

Pilot

The job description of Pilot is practically self-explanatory. Pilots fly aircraft, operate aircraft systems, and plan and execute missions.

RPA Pilot

As the name implies, RPA Pilots fly remotely piloted aircraft (also known as “drones”). These missions may involve combat or reconnaissance.

CSO

The CSO AFSC type was previously just called “Navigator”, but the training program has now been restructured to keep a wider variety of specialization options available to candidates. CSOs can be Navigators, Weapon Systems Officers (WSOs), or Electronic Warfare Officers (EWOs). CSOs participate in mission planning and operate navigational, radar, weapon, and electronic warfare equipment on aircraft.

ABM

Air Battle Managers control and monitor airspace from onboard aircraft like the E-3 AWACS and E-8 JSTARS. In real and simulated combat operations, ABMs are often responsible for monitoring radars, relaying target and threat information to numerous aircraft, and directing missions in real-time.

Service Commitments

Rated positions require highly specialized training (which means a large monetary investment on behalf of the Air Force) and manning requirements are usually high. Because of this, they have longer service commitments than most non-rated positions. The following table lists the Active Duty Service Commitments (ADSC) for each rated position. These service commitments begin the day that you graduate from the undergraduate training program for your respective position, so the reality is that you will have to serve for 1-2 years longer than these figures due to the time spent training (and awaiting training) before the commitment begins.

Position                                                           Active Duty Service Commitment

Pilot                                                                                 10 years

RPA Pilot                                                                          6 years

CSO                                                                                   6 years

ABM                                                                                  6 years

 

Eligibility Requirements

There are a variety of requirements that you must meet in order to become a commissioned officer in the US Air Force, and even more requirements must be met to become a rated officer specifically. The following lists of eligibility requirements only cover the basics and are subject to change. Some requirements may be waivable. Contact a recruiter for more information.

Commissioned Officer Eligibility

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be a citizen of the US only
  • Must have received a 4-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with at least a 2.5 GPA
  • Must meet USAF weight standards – Click here for more info
  • Must not be in violation of USAF tattoo policy – Click here for more info
  • Must not have a significant criminal history

The following requirements must be met for each rated position in addition to the commissioned officer requirements listed above.

Pilot Eligibility

  • Must be able to enter Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) by age 30
  • Must meet minimum Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT) standards for Pilot – BogiDope Article
  • Must meet Flying Class I physical standards
  • Must be able to obtain a Top Secret security clearance

RPA Pilot Eligibility

  • Must be able to enter Undergraduate Remotely Piloted Aircraft Training (URT) by age 35
    • The normal RPA age limit is 30 but a blanket Exception To Policy (ETP) raising the limit to 35 was issued in 2015 – this change may not be permanent
  • Must meet minimum AFOQT standards for RPA Pilot – BogiDope Article
  • Must meet Flying Class IIU physical standards
  • Must be able to obtain a Top Secret security clearance

CSO Eligibility

  • Must be able to enter Undergraduate Combat Systems Officer Training (UCT) by age 30
  • Must meet minimum AFOQT standards for CSO – BogiDope Article
  • Must meet Flying Class IA physical standards
  • Must be able to obtain a Top Secret security clearance

ABM Eligibility

  • Must be able to enter Undergraduate Air Battle Manager Training (UABMT) by age 30
  • Must meet minimum AFOQT standards for ABM – BogiDope Article
  • Must meet Flying Class III physical standards
  • Must be able to obtain a Top Secret security clearance

Conclusion

We hope you have enjoyed Part 1 of "How to get an OTS Slot."  Earning a rated OTS slot can be a life changing event that can dramatically alter your career and future.  At BogiDope we are dedicated to helping you make that change and are standing by to assist.  Check back in for Part 2, where BogiDope will expalin the application requirements you will need in order to compete for one of these slots.  

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