It’s about taking your expertise where it’s needed, making things happen and giving your career a breath of fresh air.
What kinds of overseas duties are there?
You could be posted for two to three years on a permanent overseas base, like RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. Or you may get the opportunity to go on detachment – being sent abroad for a short period – to use your skills to help with specific, temporary projects. These can vary in length from a few days to a few months, depending on the job. Not all projects are large scale either. For example, you may be part of a small team doing regular long-haul flights, transporting people and equipment. You could be a medic on an emergency flight across the globe, airlifting casualties to safety. You might even find yourself involved in a humanitarian relief mission.
Peacekeeping is another part of what we do. We’re still working hard in Iraq and other locations alongside our coalition partners.
What’s the food and accommodation like on overseas bases?
All our accommodation is well maintained and there are shops and restaurants both on base and in local towns where you can buy food or eat out.
Our main overseas base is RAF Akrotiri (Cyprus). For accommodation you can choose between character 1950s wooden bungalows and modern, Mediterranean-style villas. The base has a small supermarket, crammed full of provisions and general supplies. There’s a convenience shop too. Or, of course, you can go out and eat locally.
Will I have a good social life?
In RAF Akrotiri, there’s a vast range of leisure activities and clubs on base including a cinema, a beach bar and ten-pin bowling. Not to mention all the friends you’ll make while you’re working.
What our personnel think of life overseas
- Flight Operations Officer, Chris Waddilove is based at RAF Goose Bay in Labrador (Canada). What’s it like there Chris? 'It can be fairly quiet in winter, when there can be 14 feet of snow outside and the temperature drops to an average of minus 17C.' But is there enough to do off duty even if it’s snowing? 'There’s a friendly local community, including Inuit (Eskimo) and Innu (native Canadians), and our sports facilities are second to none.'
- Flight Lieutenant Helen Wright
Have you done any detachments recently yourself? 'I’ve done a six-month detachment in the Joint Communications unit in the Falkland Islands, managing all the communications.' And what was being on the Falkland Islands really like? 'It was fantastic, and the scenery was brilliant, with penguins coming up so close you could touch them on the head.'
What about my family and children?
If you both serve in the RAF, we’ll do our best to post you to the same base. If that’s not possible, we’ll try to locate you in the same area. We also provide a network of support for your partner and children while you’re away from home.
Personnel Support Officer
‘One of the great advantages of being in Cyprus is the number of things to do after work. There are all sorts of sports and hobbies, you can visit the beach or even go flying.’
For your children, there are three options: placing them in a new school; sending them to a boarding school; or settling them in one place and you commute to see them. If your child goes to boarding school, we’ll give you an allowance towards school fees. There are also Ministry of Defence schools overseas in various locations.
Around the world
The RAF is an expeditionary force. You could spend long periods of time away from home and some of it could be on detachment in places like Afghanistan. Sometimes it can be dangerous and you might have to work round the clock to achieve your mission. Whatever happens, you could see people and places you’d never normally see, and find yourself stretched and challenged in ways your average civilian job could never offer.