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Air Marshal Sir Richard Knighton appointed new Chief of the Air Staff

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has confirmed that His Majesty The King has approved the new appointment of the Chief of the Air Staff.

Air Marshal Sir Richard Knighton KCB FREng is to be appointed as Chief of the Air Staff and Aide-de-Camp to His Majesty in the rank of Air Chief Marshal, in succession to Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston KCB CBE ADC, in June 2023.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

I am delighted to congratulate Air Marshal Sir Richard Knighton on his promotion and appointment in June as Chief of the Air Staff. His previous roles have equipped him well to lead a modern, innovative and diverse Service. As the first ground branch officer to command his Service, his appointment marks a new milestone for the Royal Air Force.

Under Air Marshal Sir Richard’s leadership, the Royal Air Force will be in excellent hands. He takes up his appointment at a crucial moment for the Royal Air Force as it evolves to meet future threats while continuing to conduct operations to protect our security and support our allies and partners.

I would also like to recognise Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston’s loyal service to the nation over his military career. Sir Mike has delivered a lean, effective, modernised force that has offered phenomenal operational effect across the globe and I wish him all the best in the future.

Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said:

I am very pleased to welcome Air Marshal Sir Richard Knighton as the next Chief of the Air Staff. The first engineer to lead his Service, he is just the person to seize the extraordinary technological opportunities that await the Royal Air Force, to become even more lethal and agile, and to reach even further into cyber and space.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston has been a valued friend and colleague. Throughout his time as Chief of the Air Staff, the RAF has sustained an extraordinary tempo of operations, protecting UK and NATO skies and helping to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria. Under his leadership the RAF established Space Command and contributed to the success of Carrier Strike. His stewardship of the Global Combat Air Programme has shaped the future of the RAF, and Britain’s aerospace sector, for the next half-century. It is a worthy finale to almost four decades of service.

Air Marshal Sir Richard Knighton said:

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.

The Royal Air Force is operating the most advanced capability in its history, but this is nothing without the brilliant people who are at the heart of what the Royal Air Force delivers. I am enormously proud to lead our people, and will work tirelessly to support them in continuing to modernise and run the Royal Air Force.

A biography of Air Marshal Sir Richard Knighton can be found on

Source: Ministry of Defence: All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated. © Crown copyright 31 March 2023

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