Air Force’s network technician mustering celebrated its official start on June 25 with a cake cutting at the Defence Force School of Signals (DFSS) in Melbourne.

DFSS has trained CISCON and CETECHs since the late 1990s and now conducts the initial entry training for NETECHs. 

The first course began on March 16 and will graduate in March next year. 

Most senior NETECH at DFSS, Warrant Officer Scott Roberts cut the cake with Aircraftwoman Sharkaria Refalo, a  student on Course 001 who initially enlisted as a CISCON.

“I’m excited to see where my career goes as technology within Air Force continues to evolve,” Aircraftwoman Refalo said.

NETECH is an amalgamation of the CISCON and CETECH roles. Warrant Officer Roberts said it will be a change from their traditional work based on IT and communications security.

“We’re moving to a more encompassing mustering that looks a lot more at cyber security for the aircraft platforms, strategic and deployed networks,” Warrant Officer Roberts said.

“With the inclusion of a select number of CETECHs, numbers will jump to about 590 – nearly double the CISCON CE – and that’ll allow NETECHs to work in a lot more locations.”

NETECHs study cyberspace systems, focusing on network and server admin, crypto and provision of cyberspace support to air operations. 

“With the new trades coming in there’s a higher importance on cyber security across Defence and that’s shown in the Army signals and Navy’s CIS trades who are going through a transition the same as us,” Warrant Officer Roberts said.

Technicians will work alongside new cyber warfare roles and will work with No. 462 Squadron, strategic centres and deployed nodes.

Also on F-35s, Super Hornets, Growlers and other platforms requiring specialist ICT.

Starting his career as a communicator 25 years ago as a Navy radio operator before switching to CISCON 20 years ago, Warrant Officer Roberts said there were interesting times ahead. 

“Transition is going to be good in broadening everyone’s awareness to cyber security requirements, and being able to look after and secure our new platforms, networks and equipment” Warrant Officer Roberts said.