Joining the RAF with Asthma

I am hoping to join the raf as a regiment gunner when im 18 i am still currently diagnosed with asthma but it is extremely mild. I am being kept on an inhaler for another year but i dont need to use them however i will be over 16 by the time my next review is will i still be able to join?

If you suffer from asthma or have done in the past, you cannot be considered for flying branches in the RAF. For ground branches and trades, individuals with a past history of asthma, wheezing or inhaler use may be eligible for service following review of the past medical history by medical staff. If you currently have asthma symptoms or a current prescription or you use an inhaler for asthma or wheeze (regardless of cause), you are not eligible to apply for the Royal Air Force.

Providing you don’t get further diagnoses of current asthma, you should be able to join at some point (allowing for the fact you’ve got a myriad of other tests to pass).

Might not be when you’re 18, though. You’ll need a few years to pass after your last treatment.

Make sure no drugs, such as Ventalin, appear on your medical records. Even if you are issued one, just in case, it can be said by medics that you need it :man_shrugging:t2:

Also remember that medical are not done by the RAF, another outsource activity which is causing problems

I have nearly been of an inhaler for a year already but my go is keeping me on my current one that i havent used for a while she has stopped the steroid inhaler but gas insisted i keep the blue for another year to be safe which is totally understandable so i guess i may be in tye clear?

Only a capita dr will be able to say for certain, and you’ll only know during an application. Anything anyone says here is guesswork.

However, my experience would say that if you’re being prescribed medication for a condition, then as far as the drs are concerned, you have that condition and will not pass the medical.

And if there is any question about absolutely anything, even the slightest shred of doubt on whether a previous condition might still be relevant, Crapita will defer the decision to a Service Medical Board which delays their snail-line process even further.

In a previous job, we had Sponsored Reservists and several were initially rejected by Crapita for trivia. One ex Army candidate was rejected because they had broken their arm as an 8 year old. Regular Board weren’t concerned when they had joined the Army and the (eventual) RAF Board said it was irrelevant as it had clearly healed ok and kids injure themselves!

Hello I’m an asthmatic who is thinking of joining the RAF when I am old enough, I understand I may not be able to go into the flying branch but am if I’m off medication is it still possible to join?

the last i know of, which I predict is likely to be out of date is…

if suffering from asthma an applicant must be clear of symptoms and off medication for four years at the time of application

(how anyone will know you have suffered any (mild) self controlled symptoms is up for debate and moral ethics of the person applying - but the medication is easier on the basis it should be acquired via prescription)

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Though I know someone currently serving who uses both a preventer and reliever daily and buys it from an online pharmacy with a fake name.

I recently bought from a legitimate online pharmacy because a private prescription of salbutamol was cheaper than on the NHS and they never informed my GP, even though I gave the details. So I can see how he’s been getting away with it, though I don’t condone it at all. When he gets caught I can imagine all sorts of disciplinary (and possibly criminal) issues arising.


If still valid (this version is from 2021), JSP950 (Annex D - Respiratory Pre-Entry) lists some provisos.

The RN seem to have similar standards - which thye shoudl do, same JSP. :wink:

or now they are in report to the Dr with symptoms and they’ll get the medication they need.

as I understand it, no one is kicked out the MOD for having asthma once in - but they won’t touch you if you are showing signs at the point of recruitment

So having seen a few conversations on Reddit about this with ‘RAF_Adam’ (Recruitment Digital Comms bod). His words:

Any history of asthma AFTER your 16th birthday is likely to preclude entry for any role in the RAF.

If you had any history BEFORE your 16th birthday then you’ll need to be four or five years symptom and prescription-free before you’re able to apply from the last date.

So as long as you are clear on that front, you will be OK. HOWEVER - expect be declared TMU (Temporarialy Medically Unfit) by Capita when you have your initial Medical.

Further investigations will get carried out with your GP by them and provided you are all clear as above your will get made Medically Fit for Service.

Then of course, onto your next hurdle - the physical fitness tests :slight_smile:

Good luck!

Ridiculous isn’t it, especially when they seem to be so short if everything.

You can either have asthma, or you can’t. If you can have it whilst serving that would suggest it’s a silly barrier placed at entry to try and cut numbers down. Not helpful if you’re short of numbers to start with!

Pilots with hay fever, glasses etc, all nonsense reasons given to turn people away.

Any diagnosed history of asthma is a no for pilot, and all flying roles, permanently.

For all ground roles, be clear of it for ~4 years minimum, and that means no recent prescriptions for inhalers even if unused, that’s the bit that usually trips people up.

They’re not though, not pilots. They’re massively oversubscribed, which is why none have been recruited from open recruitment for over 2 years.

thinking in the black and white space yes

but consider someone who had asthma, kicked it and got “RAF Fit” for recruitment. they are as fit as they have ever been - 5, 8, maybe 12+ years go by and they’re fitness drops (but still able to pass the fitness test), they don’t exercise as often, age catches up with them and they develop asthma again - by this time the RAF have invested a lot of time in them and can live with a “minor” illness of well controlled asthma

now consider those last two words.
someone without well controlled asthma and take 3 different drugs in pill and aerosol form, are perhaps “fit” to a stage that no one ever noticed they have it, but to control it need a handful of drugs each day - this person is never going to be suitable for RAF service

then there is a third person who has uncontrolled asthma and is in hospital 2-3 times a year - this person is unlikely to be ever considered “well” let alone fit.

Comparing all three persons together they are vastly different yet to consider them the same simply because they tick the box “have you had asthma” is an unfair broad brush.

there is a grey are with asthma as for some it is a minor inconvenience they don’t notice taking a single puff daily, others it is debilitating condition that takes over their life.

so to say “it is a silly barrier to stop recruits” it isn’t - someone still needs to be RAF fit to be selected and once there be able to maintain a level of fitness.
reliant on drugs to do that is not “fit” in the RAF/MOD eyes and is a suitable barrier imo

It’s a tricky one - because I don’t think you can ever truly ‘stop’ being an Asthmatic. You are just able to get it under consistent control.

In my case I don’t hold a prescription and don’t suffer with it day to day. I am considered by my GP to no longer be an Asthmatic. But I can’t pretend that I don’t go down worse with my chest when sick, or that I am not more prone to chest infections than someone who had never had Asthma.

A line has to be drawn somewhere, but I do feel that perhaps it is currently drawn in the wrong place. Someone with mild, controlled asthma without history of hospitalisation & otherwise able to meet or exceed the RAF Physical Fitness Requirements would still seem valuable to me if recruiting numbers are an issue.


Whilst fine in the UK but deployments to hot, dusty, high, or very cold has the possibility of triggering an asthma episode.

“…if recruiting numbers are an issue.”

Other than perhaps some obscure trades, Recruitment are pretty flush for numbers - or so we were told a few months ago on an informal careers briefing given to our cadets during a visit to BZN.

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