Chief of the Air Staff

Portrait of Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier


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.

As the Chief of the Air Staff, I am immensely proud of the outstanding achievements of the men and women of the Royal Air Force, constantly delivering air and space power in the UK and across the world. Our 100th Anniversary in 2018 gives us a unique opportunity to commemorate our past; celebrate who we are and what we do today; and inspire future generations, so that throughout our second century we remain second to none.


Leading the RAF, a Whole Force of some 35,000 Regular and Reserve personnel, and 5000 Civil Servants, supported by thousands of contractors.

He is personally accountable for the safe and effective operation of over 700 manned and unmanned aircraft and for meeting the airpower needs of Defence, which currently means thousands of people and every front-line force committed to operations world-wide.

In addition to sustaining his people and this exceptionally high level of commitment, he is also responsible for delivering the significant growth in the RAF’s front-line capability announced in the 2015 Defence Review.

He is married to Elaine, who has provided incredible support to him and to the wider RAF family for over 30 years, and has 2 grown-up children. Air Chief Marshal Hillier relaxes through running half-marathons, usually for Service charities, photography, hill-walking and reading.

Career history

1980 - Joined the RAF

1998 - Tornado GR4 pilot and flying instructor

He has over 3500 flying hours and extensive operational and command experience, ranging from squadron pilot to theatre commander of British Forces.

2008 - Air Officer Commanding 2 Group

Responsible for the RAF’s ISTAR, Air Transport, Air-Refuelling, Force Protection and Search and Rescue capabilities.

2012 - Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Military Capability) in the Ministry of Defence

Responsible for strategic force design, balance of investment and capability coherence across all areas of UK joint military capability.


2014 - received his knighthood

2004 - appointed CBE

2003 - awarded the United States Bronze Star for Iraq operations

1999 - awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for operations over Iraq

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