Assistant Chief of Air Staff (ACAS)
The incumbent is in practical terms the deputy to the head of the RAF, the Chief of the Air Staff.
The ACAS post was established in 1985 by eliminating the Vice Chief of the Air Staff and combining the Policy and Operations two star assistant chiefs. In 1992, ACAS became a member of the Air Force Board. One of the many duties of the ACAS is to sit on the board of the Civil Aviation Authority.
Air Vice-Marshal Richard Knighton
AVM Knighton was born in 1969. He was brought up in Derbyshire and educated at Hatton Secondary School. He joined the RAF in 1988 as a University Cadet and studied at Clare College Cambridge. He graduated in 1991 with a First in Engineering. In his early career he worked as an engineer officer on Nimrod and Tornado F3 aircraft and then on Harrier as the structures specialist in the Support Authority.
He was promoted to squadron leader in 1998 and became the Senior Engineer Officer on 20 Sqn – the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit – at RAF Wittering. After 2 years, including a short stint as Senior Engineer Officer on 1 Squadron in Italy during the Kosovo campaign, he was posted to the Tornado Integrated Project Team as the fleet manager for all marks of Tornado. In 2003 he attended Advanced Command and Staff Course and was promoted to wing commander while on the Course.
In 2004, after his year of study, he returned to the Harrier Force, this time in the Integrated Project Team at RAF Wyton as head of the team charged with transforming the way the Harrier was supported by industry. After 18 months in post he was selected to be the Military Assistant to Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Equipment Capability) in MOD. He was promoted to Group Captain in mid-2007 when he became Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff Strategy and Plans at Air Command at RAF High Wycombe. He attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in 2009, after which he took up his appointment as the RAF’s Logistics Force Commander and Station Commander at RAF Wittering. He was promoted to Air Commodore in May 2011 when he became Head of Finance and Military Capability (Air) (formerly Air Resources and Plans) in MOD, before setting up and leading the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) Programme. AVM Knighton was appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Staff in January 2015.
AVM Knighton is married to Caitlin, who is a partner in a large law firm in Cambridge. They have 2 daughters Emily (2000) and Rosie (2002) and live in their own home near Cambridge. He is President of Combined Services and RAF Powerlifting and is the Chairman of the RAF Winter Sports Federation. Away from work he maintains his pilots licence, is a keen skier, a below-average sportsman, and would like to do more sailing.