In the build up to Armed Forces Day this Saturday 24 June, Forces News has been looking at some of the roles military personnel play across the world.

One crucial job carried out is that of Air Traffic Controller, based at RAF Akrotiri.

The base is home to Operation Shader - Britain's contribution to the coalition fight against so-called Islamic State.

Warrant Officer Steve Bate has served almost 32 years in the Royal Air Force, including detachments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Italy.

He started his career as an Assistant Air Traffic Controller when he left school, following in the footsteps of his uncle and cousin who served in the Army and Royal Navy respectively.

WO Bate says he has worked with many types of RAF aircraft during his time serving.

"The one constant has pretty much been the Tornado - that's still flying today as it was then," he says.

"Working at Boscombe Down, the test pilot school, we had every aircraft type that the Air Force flew then - even such as the Hunter."

Steve BaTE Princess Margaret
WO Bate (second from right) deep in thought during a royal visit.

One career highlight for WO Bate was a royal visit from Princess Margaret, when he was a Flight Simulator Operator at RAF Shawbury.

"I was lucky enough to go low level around north Wales in a Hawk," he says.

"I flew all the way to southern Germany in the back of a Wessex, sitting in the door with my legs dangling - that was interesting!"

Air Traffic Controllers will generally work intensely for between 60 and 90 minutes at a time, followed by a period waiting for aircraft to return to base.

According to WO Bate, "you've got to stay on your toes" during this time, as aircraft can arrive back at a moment's notice.

His aim is to retire at 55-years-old, but he is not ruling out staying on until his is 60, due to shortages in the area.

"I enjoy the job, I still enjoy the life.

Watch live coverage of Armed Forces Day in Liverpool, from 11:00 BST on Forces TV, Sky 264, Virgin 277 or Freesat 165. Forces TV is also broadcast to British Forces overseas via BFBS TV on channel 9.

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