Portrait of Air Marshal Harvey Smyth

Air Marshal Harvey Smyth


The Air & Space Commander (ASC) is the senior Royal Air Force war fighter responsible for the conduct of air operations at home and overseas.

Working together with other Services and international operational commanders, he oversees the generation and employment of air power in all environments.

This wide remit includes the Air Defence of the United Kingdom, the delivery of intervention operations abroad and the conduct of humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

I am excited to be back at HQ Air Command and proud to be appointed as the new DCom Ops. I look forward to working alongside all of you in the delivery of Global Air and Space Operations whilst collaborating with colleagues to continue our focus on the Next Generation Air Force.


Air Marshal Harvey Smyth was born and educated in Northern Ireland and joined the RAF in 1991 via the Sixth Form and Flying Scholarship Schemes. After qualifying as a fast-jet pilot, he spent 15 years as a frontline Harrier pilot and weapons instructor. He has extensive combat experience having flown hundreds of operational missions from both land bases and aircraft carriers over: Bosnia; Kosovo; Serbia; Iraq; and Afghanistan.

In staff roles, Smyth has worked in the UK Air & Space Warfare Centre and spent 2 tours in the F-35 Lightning programme: the first as the Requirements Manager in MOD’s Directorate of Equipment Capability, and the second based in Washington DC as the UK’s F-35 National Director, where he was at the forefront of bringing the first UK Lightnings into service.

In 2013 Smyth retrained as a Tornado pilot and became the Station Commander of RAF Marham, supporting concurrent operations in Afghanistan, West Africa, Iraq and Syria. On promotion to Air Commodore (1*) in 2015 he became the Tornado Force Commander, and shortly thereafter, the UK’s first Lightning F-35 Force Commander. He followed this with a short appointment as the Head of Carrier Enabled Power Projection (CEPP) within the MOD, before then conducting an operational tour as Director of the Combined Air Operations Centre in Qatar, responsible for planning and authorising ~1000 daily air & space missions at the height of the counter-ISIS campaign.

Promoted to Air Vice-Marshal (2*) in 2018, Smyth retrained as a Typhoon pilot and became Air Officer Commanding Number 1 Group (AOC 1Gp), where he was responsible for the Air Combat Group of the RAF. In early 2020, Smyth then became UK MOD’s inaugural Director Space, building the Space Directorate and setting the foundation for the stand-up of UK Space Command. As a member of the PM-chaired National Space Council, and co-chair of the National Space Board, he was responsible for the production of UK’s first National and Defence Space Strategies, and establishment of a more ambitious Defence Space Programme. Smyth was promoted to Air Marshal (3*) in 2022 and appointed as the RAF’s Deputy Commander (Operations), the role now known as Air & Space Commander.

Smyth has completed UK’s Advanced and Higher Command & Staff Courses, the Exeter Business School Leadership Programme, the UK Pinnacle Course, Windsor Leadership, and has a Master’s Degree in Defence Studies. He is currently a member of the UK Government’s National Leadership Programme. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in 2003 for air operations over Iraq’s Western Desert, was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2011, and Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) in 2020. He received the Meritorious Service Medal and the Legion of Merit from the US Sec Def in 2013 and 2018 respectively. From 2013-15 Smyth was an Aide de Camp to Her Majesty the Queen.


2003 - Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)

2011 - Order of the British Empire (OBE)

2013 – US Meritorious Service Medal

2018 – US Legion of Merit

2020 - Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB)