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Air Force

Air Weapons Systems Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time

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Air Weapons Systems Technicians maintain aircraft air weapons systems. They also perform explosives storage and handling, and provide Explosive Ordnance Disposal duties for the Air Force.

Their primary responsibilities are to:

  • Test, inspect and repair Air Weapons Systems
  • Perform quality assurance checks
  • Prepare and maintain aircraft forms and statistical data
  • Perform aircraft handling tasks that include:
    • Parking
    • Towing
    • Marshalling
    • Starting
    • Refueling
    • Cleaning
    • De-icing
    • Loading/unloading weapons
    • Weapons systems
  • Operate aircraft support equipment

Work environment

Air Weapons Systems Technicians are employed primarily at air bases in aircraft maintenance organizations, in maintenance hangers, shop environments and on flight lines. Air Weapons Systems Technicians may also perform these same duties and responsibilities onboard a ship at sea or on an airfield at a deployed site. They will also be called upon to perform some duties in airborne aircraft. In geographic terms, employment can vary from Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) wings and bases within Canada, including the Arctic, to locations throughout the world in response to internationals commitments.

Career Overview





ARCHIBALD : I’m Corporal Steve Archibald from Greenwood, Nova Scotia – an Air Weapons Systems Technician currently posted to 4 Wing Cold Lake.

AUGER: And I’m Corporal Alexandre Auger from Saguenay, Quebec – an Air Weapons Systems Technician currently posted to 3 Wing Bagotville.

Without armament there wouldn’t be any Air Force really, because, apart from the transport aspect of the Air Force, really the role of the F-18 in general is: it’s a weapons platform, and without weapons, the F-18 is just a really fast jet.

ARCHIBALD: As an Air Weapons Systems Technician, or AWS Tech, I work in the hangar and on the flight line, installing, repairing and testing these complex weapons systems.

AUGER: Somebody that works at the squadron would work on the flight line, would do most of the loading on the aircraft, and the maintenance with regards to all the systems that are on-board the aircraft that have to do with armament. That also includes the gun system and the racks and launchers that are on the aircraft. Whereas second-liner shop duties like here – what we do is we assemble and disassemble bombs, missiles; we fill the 20-millimetre karts that we deliver to the squadron and we fill the chaff and flare pods for them as well.

ARCHIBALD: As part of the Air Maintenance team, we work with Avionics and Aviation Systems Techs to make sure that every aircraft takes off with the ability to carry out its mission, and the firepower to back it up.

AUGER: You want to be sure that you’re working within all the norms and that everything is safe when you’re working, so that your weapon will function as designed.

ARCHIBALD: We serve on Air Force bases across Canada, aboard ship with our maritime helicopters, and wherever our squadrons deploy.

ARCHIBALD: To me, the coolest thing about being an Air Weapons Systems Tech are the weapons themselves.

It’s pretty powerful stuff, especially when you get into the live stuff and you’re loading them. If you’re sitting down on the jack we use to load the missiles and you’ve got the live AIM-7 missile motor sitting in front of your face, it gets the adrenaline flowing sometimes.

AUGER: Going on the range and seeing one of these… the live versions of the bombs behind me… seeing one of those blow.

ARCHIBALD: One of the best things about being an Air Weapons Systems Tech is definitely the camaraderie within our crews. Ninety-five percent of the things that we do are working with two, three, four people, so you’re always working with your buddies, and we’re a pretty tight-knit group.

AUGER: And there’s another important – and demanding – dimension to being an Air Weapons Systems Tech. We call it E.O.D., explosive ordnance disposal.

Whenever somebody finds a piece of explosive or there’s a dud on the range, it’s your job to go and make it safe, and most of the time, making it safe means blowing it up.

AUGER: When you join the Air Force, you’ll start with your Basic Military training, and then you’ll move on to your specialized training in flight line operations and air weapons systems.

ARCHIBALD: You’ll spend about six months at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering at Borden, Ontario.

AUGER: At Borden, you’ll learn the fundamentals of all the air weapons systems in the Canadian arsenal: how they work, how to install and uninstall them, and how to load, store and test them.

ARCHIBALD: There’s also an intensive focus on explosives storage and disposal, the basics of E.O.D. And you’ll spend some time out on the flight line, learning how to service aircraft in all conditions.

ARCHIBALD: When you complete your course at Borden, you’ll be assigned to a squadron of CF-18 fighter jets at Cold Lake, Alberta, or Bagotville, Quebec or to other Squadrons where the aircraft carry weapons.

AUGER: You have to be motivated, interested in what you do. You have to pay attention to detail. You need to be thorough with your work because there’s a lot of risk involved, even though it’s not very apparent sometimes. It’s like working on the aircraft, basically. You need to be able to read rules, read the technical manuals and know how to apply them well.

ARCHIBALD: My first year here at the squadron was a giant learning curve for me, so I’ve pretty much attached myself to somebody who had been there for a few years, and he was kind of like a mentor to me. Now I’m one of the senior guys, and I’m teaching other people how we work at our squadron.

AUGER: I’ve been on exercise a couple of times and I will be leaving in a couple of months again to go overseas. There’s always the whole aspect of, you know, going somewhere new, somewhere exciting.

ARCHIBALD: We fly about fifteen of our jets down to California in the fall time, and Florida in the springtime. We spend about three weeks there flying a lot of missions, loading a lot of weapons. You’re there with all your friends doing the job you love.

AUGER: You basically do the same job you do here, but it’s basically more concentrated. You’re supporting something very direct, very specific.

ARCHIBALD: With all of the things that we get to do here, all of the people I get to meet, places we get to go; it’s a great trade.




Related Civilian Occupations

  • Aircraft Mechanics and Aircraft Inspectors
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologists and Technicians
  • Explosives and ammunition magazine Supervisor


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.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Air Weapons Systems Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering in Borden, Ontario. This training takes approximately 32 weeks and includes:

  • Utilize Tools and Test/Support Equipment
  • Complete Aircraft and AMSE Records
  • Perform Flight Line Servicing Duties
  • Maintain Aircraft Weapon Systems
  • Perform Loading/Unloading Operations
  • Control Explosives Inventory
  • Store Explosives
  • Maintain Explosives and Ancillary Hardware
  • Operate Destruction Areas
  • Disposal of Surplus and Obsolete Ammunition

Air Weapons Systems Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Conventional Munitions Disposal (Advanced)
  • Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (Operator or Assistant)
  • Missile Maintenance Courses
  • Air Weapons Range Specialist
  • Instructional Technique
  • Aircraft Specific Type Courses
  • Life Cycle Material management

As they progress in their career, Air Weapons Systems Technicians who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Technical Administration
  • Leadership and Management Courses

Entry plans

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec including Grade 10 Academic Math or Math 426 in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.

Part time options

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.

Reservists train with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required professional standards of the job. If additional training is required in order to acquire specialized skills, arrangements will be made by the home unit.

Reserve Force 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 92.8 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.