Each year, the RAF need to recruit a significant number of people to meet operational needs The Covid impact on RAF Recruitment has led to a more complex recruitment programme which has to be more flexible, agile and scalable.

In 2020, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on face-to-face and in-person events became clear, recruitment moved from physical to virtual for the RAF, to ensure that the recruitment pipeline could be maintained.

The RAF are monitoring the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and are continuing to follow the latest Government advice. To keep everyone as safe as possible, all face-to-face visits to AFCOs are suspended and some stages of the recruitment process are on hold, but all applications remain ‘live’.

Some roles have a slow recruitment process, in some cases this can take over a year to complete. This is because training places for the considerable future have already been allocated. The recruitment process for some roles is much quicker because there is a current requirement to fill training places.

RAF Target Recruitment Age

The RAF’s main target audience is the 16-24 year-old demographic, a segmentation which presents many challenges, including often being shielded by gatekeepers.

The combination of Brexit and Covid-19 led to a record number of vacancies in the UK and the RAF had to ensure that it delivered its training opportunities in a meaningful way which resonates with its target audience. The RAF must compete with global organisations such as BAE Systems and Rolls Royce to attract the high calibre staff that it needs.

Covid impact on RAF Recruitment the Advantages

The RAF has the following advantages when attracting the talent that it requires:


The RAF has many sports clubs and they sponsor talented personnel to compete at the highest level, provide time off for training and subsidise travel, entry fees and equipment costs. This is true for individuals who are representing themselves or are representing the RAF in authorised sporting events.


Every base has free sports facilities, normally including a gym and regular fitness classes. The RAF’s physical training instructors are also available to offer training advice and tips for staying fit.


RAF personnel have excellent private healthcare and dental care. Specialists are always around to provide the care and treatment needed if you are feeling unwell, have a toothache, or get injured playing sports.



The RAF has long been passionate about esports and, together with Identity, have designed and produced a bespoke, RAF branded esports set to facilitate a live streamed esports showcase. Other elements of this virtual delivery package included behind the scenes footage of a life and career in the RAF, interviews and analysis.

Standard of Training during Covid-19

All the training establishments have been given good or outstanding grades for overall effectiveness, and there has been a strong focus on the training, care and welfare of recruits and trainees. Senior commanders have continued to manage these aspects of training during the pandemic.

As much training has taken place as possible, including with some trainees working from home, while applying the required COVID-19 protocols to keep their on-site personnel safe.

Recruits and trainees have been well cared for well by highly motivated and supportive staff, who work closely together to provide good, coordinated welfare arrangements.

Recruits and trainees have been confident that staff at all levels of seniority, as well as those outside the chain of command, such as padres, will provide them with appropriate support should they need it.

Current RAF Application Process

Airmen applications

  • AFCOs are not open to visits or walk-in visitors but are open virtually via phone and email.
  • There are no face-to-face interviews which have been replaced by video interviews.
  • Airmen Selection Tests (AST) are being carried out by invite only.
  • Pre-Joining Fitness Tests are now taking place.
  • Medicals are continuing
  • Pre-Recruit Familiarisation Visits are only taking place for RAF Regiment applicants at RAF Honington.
  • Phase One Training dates are still valid for Airmen roles.

Officer applications

The RAF are carrying out the Computer Based Aptitude Tests (CBAT) and Officer & Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC) dates.

  • Medicals will continue.
  • Pre-Joining Fitness Tests are now taking place.
  • Initial Officer Training (IOT) dates will not be impacted at this time.