05 Jun 2020

The Royal Air Force has appointed Air Commodore Tony Keeling as the next Commandant of the RAF Air Cadets. He will take post on Sept 21st Sept 2020.

The current Comdt, Air Commodore McCafferty retires on July 15th. Chief of Staff, Group Capt John Lawlor will be Acting Comdt for the intervening period.

Air Commodore Keeling is currently the Air Officer responsible for the RAF’s Aerospace Engineering & Logistics capabilities, Photographers and Music Services.

He said: “I am delighted to be appointed as the next Commandant of the RAF Air Cadets.  As a former cadet myself, I am a huge fan of the ATC and CCF and the brilliance, ambition and achievements of the cadets, but I know that the organization would not enjoy its high reputation without the determination and commitment of an excellent team of permanent staff working with an amazing network of adult volunteers. 

“I have enormous respect for everything that Air Commodore McCafferty has achieved for the RAF Air Cadets during her tenure as Commandant, and I’m really looking forward to joining the team in September.”

Tony, 51, who lives in Lincolnshire, is delighted with the appointment because he was a cadet himself in his teenage years.

Enthused by his time in the Air Training Corps with 145 (Altrincham & Hale) Squadron, Cheshire, Tony joined the RAF in 1987 as an apprentice.

He originally trained as an airframe and propulsion technician before taking a commission in 1999 as an Engineering Officer after completing a university cadetship at the Royal Military College of Science. 

Tony’s first tour was on 5(AC) Squadron maintaining Tornado F3 and in 2006 he was appointed as the Senior Engineering Officer of 2(AC) Squadron responsible for engineering Tornado GR4, culminating in a deployment to Operation TELIC.

In 2010, he joined the then newly formed Military Aviation Authority and the following year, as Officer Commanding the Engineering & Logistics Wing at RAF Lossiemouth, Tony commanded a large team at a time of organisational change and operational tempo.

Immediately following that tour, he deployed as Chief of Staff Support to 904 Expeditionary Air Wing based at Kandahar in Afghanistan, supporting Reaper, Tornado GR4, C130 Hercules and BAe146. 

Tony has a broad support background having worked in the Defence Logistics Organisation as Hawk T Mk1 Fleet Manager, the MOD Saudi Armed Forces Project supporting Hawk Mk65, and in Defence Equipment & Support reviewing airworthiness standards.

Promoted to Group Captain in May 2015, he was posted to Joint Forces Command where he was the Chief of Staff for the Anglo-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force.

A return to MOD followed, this time focused on strategic finance and military capability planning.

In 2017, he commanded RAF Wittering, a busy flying training airfield and home to the A4 Force who deliver the RAF’s specialist engineering and logistics functions. 

Last September he was promoted to Air Commodore and became the A4 Force Commander.

In that post, he currently directs the RAF Engineering and Logistics branches and trades, over 2,500 types of airfield and engineering equipment, the full range of RAF Logistics capabilities, RAF Photography and the RAF’s Music Services.


Chartered Engineer

Tony, a chartered engineer,  is a graduate of the RAF Advanced Command & Staff Course, Defence Senior Leadership Programme and the Windsor Leadership Trust. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in aeromechanical systems engineering and a Master’s in Defence Studies. 

He also undertook distance learning for a Master of Business Administration (Defence) from Cranfield University.

Air Commodore Keeling is also a Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) Ambassador, Fellow of both the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institute of Engineering Technology.

He is also the RAF’s LGBT+ Advocate, a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity & Inclusivity Leadership Group, and volunteers as a governor at a further education college.

Outside of work, Air Commodore Keeling is married to Bobby and they have two children, Tom and Alice - both at university. 

Tony, enjoys running and long walks with his dogs. 

Long road marches with cadets will be no problem!

Air Cadet Magazine

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Air Cadet Magazine

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