Air Marshal Stuart Atha in service dress uniform next to an RAF ensign

Air Marshal Stuart Atha


The Deputy Commander Operations is the senior Royal Air Force war fighter responsible for the conduct of air operations at home and overseas.

Working together with other Services and international operational commanders, he oversees the generation and employment of air power in all environments.

This wide remit includes the Air Defence of the United Kingdom, the delivery of intervention operations abroad and the conduct of humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

The RAF has never been more respected, relevant and required than it is today; my aim is to keep it that way.


Air Marshal Stuart Atha was appointed Deputy Commander of Operations in 2016 in succession to Air Marshal Greg Bagwell.

His staff tours have included posts in the Air Warfare Centre, the Directorate of Operational Capability, Personal Staff Officer to the Chief of the Air Staff, Head of Joint Capability in the Ministry of Defence and most recently Chief of Staff (Operations) in the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters.

He has commanded and flown operationally in the UK, Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, including combat missions during Operation DELIBERATE FORCE (Bosnia 1995), Operation ALLIED FORCE (Kosovo 1999) and Operation TELIC (Iraq 2003).  Following Operation ALLIED FORCE, he led a team into Kosovo to examine the effectiveness of the RAF’s bombing, and in 2003 he led the Ministry of Defence study into Operation TELIC.  In 2011 he headed the Ministry of Defence’s Libyan operations team (Operation ELLAMY).

He has flown Quick Reaction Alert missions in the UK and when serving as the UK’s Air Defence Commander he was responsible for the London Olympics’ Air Security Plan.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 2003, a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in 2010 and he was appointed as a Companion to the Order of the Bath in 2015.

He is a member of the Franco-British Council, President of RAF Winter Sports and Icarus Football Club, Mentor to Glasgow Universities Air Squadron, Honorary Vice-President of Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association, the Typhoon Entente Cordiale Trust and the Friends of Metheringham Airfield and is a Patron of the Jon Egging Trust, a charity that seeks to inspire and develop young people. In a similar vein, he enjoys flying Air Cadets most weekends as a junior pilot on No 5 Air Experience Flight.

Married to Caroline and with 5 children he remembers a time when he enjoyed sailing, skiing and playing football, rugby, golf and the piano, badly.

Career history

1984 - Joined the RAF

Stuart Atha joined the RAF in 1984 after reading mathematics and physics and flying with the Air Squadron at Glasgow University.

1993-2003 – Harrier GR7

He flew in Germany and the UK as a front-line pilot, flight commander and squadron commander of No 3 (Fighter) Squadron.

2006 – Station Commander RAF Coningsby

Serving as the inaugural Typhoon Force Commander and displaying the Hurricane and Spitfire aircraft of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

2009 – Commander of 83 Expeditionary Group

Responsible for the headquarters of operations in the Gulf.

2011 – Commander of No.1 Group

Responsible for all front line, Fast-jet Force Elements and as such has functional responsibility for the teeth arm of the Royal Air Force.


2015 - appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath

2010 - awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service for his services in Afghanistan

2003 - awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership in Iraq

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