Portrait of Air Chief Marshal Sir Rich Knighton

Air Chief Marshal Sir Rich Knighton


The Chief of the Air Staff is the 4-star commander and professional head of the Royal Air Force.

He is accountable to the Secretary of State for its fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale.

Reporting through the Chief of the Defence Staff, he is responsible for the development, generation, integration and sustainment of the RAF in accordance with Defence policy and priorities to meet CDS strategic objectives.

I am deeply honoured to be appointed as the next Chief of the Air Staff at such an important time for the Royal Air Force. The Prime Minister was clear in the Integrated Review Refresh that the world is now more volatile and contested. Air and Space power are critical to defending the UK, its interests and our allies. I am delighted to be given the opportunity to build on the modernisation and phenomenal operational success led by my predecessor.


Brought up in Derbyshire and educated at the local Comprehensive School, he joined the Royal Air Force in 1988 as a University Cadet and studied Engineering at Clare College Cambridge. He spent his early career in frontline roles working on Nimrod Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Tornado and in several roles within the Harrier Force. He has served as the Station Commander at Royal Air Force Wittering where he was also the RAF’s Logistics Force Commander.

He has held a range of staff appointments in the Ministry of Defence, Air Command and in acquisition and support. He has been closely involved in strategic and capability planning for the Royal Air Force and Defence. He has been the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, where he was responsible for the strategic coherence and coordination of the Royal Air Force and planning for the RAF’s centenary programme. The most senior role he has held in the Ministry of Defence was as the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff for Military Capability. Before taking up his appointment as Chief of the Air Staff he was Deputy Commander Capability and People at Air Command, where he was responsible for the strategic planning and delivery of all aspects of Royal Air Force capability, including people, equipment, infrastructure and training.

He has completed the Advanced Command and Staff Course and attended the Royal College of Defence Studies and the UK Pinnacle Course. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineers and holds an Honorary Doctorate from Derby University. He is a Vice Patron of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, an ambassador for the Royal Air Forces Association and President of the Royal Air Force Winter Sports Federation, Hockey Association and Powerlifting Association. He was appointed to the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath as a Commander (CB) in 2017 and as Knight Commander (KCB) in 2022.


2017 - appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)

2020 - Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng)

2022 - promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB)

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