Fighter Tactical Systems Operator
The WSO integrates with the pilot to collectively achieve and maintain crew efficiency, situational awareness and mission effectiveness. The WSO can pilot the aircraft when required although this is typically during non-tactical portions of the mission.
However modern Starfighter cockpits using programmable multi-function displays allow roles to be more flexible. This allows either to detect, target and even engage in combat [Space, Air, or ground targets]. The WSO normally performs communications, operations data-link, and defensive systems based on the tactical situation. This provides the flexibility for pilot and WSO roles to be customized based on, workload, tactics, and weapons being employed. A good example of sharing workload is the Valkyrie where the WSO is often assigned the pair of phaser Type'V' to fire on pursing Bandits freeing up the pilot and increasing accuracy to the rear. The pilot remains responsible for flying the aircraft in tactical situations.
In Starfleet almost all WSO are lower scoring Academy graduate fighter pilot which allows them flight time to increase their skill levels. Often a team becomes so accustomed to each other that they do not split up. As any flight Officer they are trained to fly all shuttles and other support craft.
To be a WSO a rank of at least Warrant Officer or a Comissioned Rank is mandatory.
Reports to the Flight Leader.