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Senior Software Engineers- Weapons Reverse Engineering

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)
Dstl Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP4 0JQ
£32,626 - £65,117
Closing date
30 Jan 2023

Job Details

Job summary

Do you:

  • Have an inquisitive mind?
  • Like to understand how something works?
  • Want to do something worthwhile with global impact?
  • Want to save lives?
  • Want to use your coding skills on classified projects?
  • Have an interest in weapon systems?
  • Want to apply your coding skills to tackle embedded software conundrums?

Platform Systems Division at Dstl is responsible for understanding and countering threats to the UK armed forces. As a Senior Software Engineer you will work on a diverse range of software projects that support our operational decision making. If you have experience in applying your software and programming skills to solve software conundrums we want to hear from you.

Dstl recognises the importance of diversity and inclusion as people from diverse backgrounds bring fresh ideas. We are committed to building an inclusive working environment in which each employee fulfils their potential and maximises their contribution.

We particularly welcome female and ethnic minority applicants and those from the LGBTQI community, as they are under-represented within Dstl at these levels.

Job description

“Support the Physical Fighting Force”
As a Senior Software Engineer you will apply your programming and software engineering skills and experience to tackle embedded software conundrums contributing to current and future weapons assessment. More specifically you will lead projects to evaluate military systems and their embedded software or digital circuits to identify vulnerabilities to support the protection of UK military airframes, vessels and vehicles.

We are looking for individuals to work back to front without instruction manuals. You will deal in complex systems, find vulnerabilities and help develop countermeasures to defeat them. The work is bespoke, often unbounded and requires creative minds with plenty of tenacity! Think of it as building a jigsaw, but without the picture…! The threat environment has never been as fast-paced, sophisticated or diverse, and so we are expanding to meet the challenge head-on.

Alongside being a technical expert, you will be responsible for helping lead and upskill our new apprentice and graduate recruits and engaging with our customers to set the technical direction of our work.  People with the enthusiasm and ability to solve challenging problems are what we value most – if this sounds like you we can offer you an exciting and varied career with a wide range of benefits.

Person specification

This role is being advertised at multiple experience levels. For each level we are looking for someone with:

Senior Software engineer (Level 5):

  • Leadership or collaboration experience.
  • Strong embedded software engineering experience.
  • Experience of mentoring or leading other software engineers.

Principal Software engineer (Level 6):

  • Experience of leading large-scale software projects and sets of teams.
  • Strong networking ability; particularly in working with external organisations or contractors.
  • Experience of implementing new workflows or processes to improve organisational or project-level efficiency.

Senior Principal Software engineer (Level 7)

  • Proven track record demonstrating expertise in area- national and international reputation.
  • Experience of developing and leading a software engineering
  • Demonstration of leadership across multiple teams and across organisational boundaries.



A degree or equivalent experience in computer science, electronics engineering or any STEM subject area alongside a track record demonstrating technical knowledge and experience of the skills below.


  • Good understanding of computer architecture concepts
  • Microcontrollers/ Digital Signal Processors/ Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA’s)
  • Strong C or C++ skills
  • Assembly Language (x86, ARM, or other)
  • Embedded Real Time Systems and microelectronics
  • Software reverse engineering
  • Knowledge of static and dynamic analysis of compiled software systems using Ghidra, IDA, radare2, or other similar tools.
  • Proficient at understanding source code for analysis
  • Able to demonstrate good knowledge of algorithm design/ problem solving / problem decomposition.
  • Experience developing scripts to decode and decrypt obfuscated data and network traffic
  • Debugging
  • Ability to document and explain technical details clearly and concisely in writing and graphics for technical and non-technical audiences
  • Experience of technical leadership in studies or projects, people management or consulting


An active membership or fellowship of a relevant professional body is desirable. Dstl will pay for memberships for up to 2 relevant professional bodies.

Important Information

Our work in defence, security and intelligence requires our employees to be UK Nationals who are able to gain a high level of security clearance to undertake the projects we are involved in to protect us from security threats. For this reason, only UK Nationals will be able to apply for this role. If you are an international or dual-national candidate, and you think you have the skills we need, please consider applying to any of our government, security or defence partners.

You will need to undergo Developed Vetting (DV) if successful in your application. This requires you to have resided in the UK for the previous 10 years, although exemptions are possible depending on circumstances.

Work location

We are based at Dstl Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Due to the nature of our work, full-time remote working is not usually possible. However, many staff work one day a week from home on our less sensitive work.


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Leadership
  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Working Together
  • Changing and Improving

Technical skills

We'll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • Please state which level you wish to be considered for (Level 5, 6 or 7) and describe how your technical and leadership skills and experience make you suitable for it.
  • Please describe the technical accomplishment you are most proud of and why.
  • You have just compiled an update to your latest C or C++ project. You run the executable and receive a segmentation fault error message, please outline your thought process as to what to do next.
  • Please provide an example of how you have improved the efficiency or accuracy of your workflow and describe the impact this had.


About us

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is the science inside UK defence and security. A proven national asset, Dstl is an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) providing world class expertise and delivering cutting-edge science and technology for the benefit of the nation and allies.

Who we are

Dstl is one of the principal government organisations dedicated to science and technology in the defence and security field.

Dstl supplies specialist services to MOD and wider government, working collaboratively with external partners in industry and academia worldwide, providing expert research, specialist advice and invaluable operational support.

We are innovative, collaborative and impactful.

Our responsibilities

Our responsibilities include:

  • supplying sensitive and specialist science and technology services for MOD and wider government
  • providing and facilitating expert advice, analysis and assurance on defence procurement
  • leading on the MOD’s science and technology programme
  • understanding risks and opportunities through horizon-scanning
  • acting as a trusted interface between MOD, wider government, the private sector and academia to provide science and technology support to military operations by the UK and her allies
  • championing and developing science and technology skills across MOD

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