Stuart Atha

Stuart Atha

Atha speaking at Chatham House in 2011
Born (1962-04-30) 30 April 1962
Irvine, Ayrshire
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service 1984 – present
Rank Air Marshal
Commands held No. 1 Group (2011–14)
No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group (2009–10)
RAF Coningsby (2006–08)
No. 3 (Fighter) Squadron (2000–04)

Operation Deliberate Force
Operation Allied Force
Iraq War

War in Afghanistan
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service

Air Marshal Stuart David Atha, CB, DSO, ADC (born 30 April 1962) is a serving senior officer of the Royal Air Force.

Military career

Atha joined the RAF after graduating from Glasgow University in 1984. He was commissioned as a pilot officer on 14 October 1984,[1] promoted to flying officer on 14 April 1985 (with seniority from 14 October 1982),[2] flight lieutenant on 14 April 1986,[3] and squadron leader on 1 July 1995.[4] He served as a Fast Jet Qualified Flying Instructor on the Hawk aircraft, before completing tours in Germany and the UK, flying the Harrier GR7 on No. 1 (Fighter) and No. IV (Army Cooperation) Squadrons.

Following a tour as the Harrier tactics specialist at the Air Warfare Centre, Atha attended the Advanced Command and Staff Course at Bracknell (1999–2000), and was promoted wing commander on 1 July 1999.[5] He then assumed command of No 3 (Fighter) Squadron, again flying the Harrier GR7. He graduated from King's College London with an MA in 2000.

Following his command tour, Atha joined the Ministry of Defence Directorate of Operational Capability for a short spell before becoming the Personal Staff Officer to the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup. He was promoted group captain on 1 January 2005.[6] In early 2006, he attended the Higher Command and Staff Course. Atha was station commander of RAF Coningsby from 1 December 2006 – 15 December 2008.

Atha is a veteran of the conflicts in both the Balkans and Gulf with combat missions flown in Operation Deliberate Force (Bosnia 1995), Operation Allied Force (Kosovo 1999) and Operation Telic (Iraq 2003). On 31 October 2003 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership in Iraq.[7] He was appointed Aide-de-Camp to the Queen on 12 February 2007.[8] He served in Afghanistan in support of Operation Herrick from October 2009 to March 2010, for which he was awarded a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service.[9]

Atha's tour in the Middle East was followed in April 2010 with an appointment as Head of Joint Capability at the Ministry of Defence.[10] He was promoted Air Vice Marshal and appointed Air Officer Commanding No.1 Group RAF on 12 Aug 2011[11]

Atha served as the Air Component Commander for the London Olympics Air Security in 2012[12] and he became the Chief of Staff (Operations) at the Permanent Joint Headquarters in 2014; he handed over to Air Vice Marshal Gary Waterfall on 16 May 2016.[13] He was promoted to air marshal on 27 May 2016.[14] In June 2016 he became Deputy Commander Operations at RAF Air Command in succession to Air Marshal Greg Bagwell.[15]

Atha was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2015 New Year Honours.[16][17]


  1. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50006. p. 512. 14 January 1985. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  2. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50128. p. 7060. 20 May 1985. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  3. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50515. p. 6491. 12 May 1986. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  4. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54091. p. 9202. 3 July 1995. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 55543. p. 7308. 6 July 1999. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  6. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57521. p. 16360. 4 January 2005. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  7. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57100. p. 4. 31 October 2003. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  8. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58245. p. 2084. 13 February 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  9. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59554. pp. 18538–18538. 24 September 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  10. Royal Air Force Air Rank Appointments List 3/09 retrieved 8 April 2009
  11. Royal Air Force Air Rank Appointments List 02-11 retrieved 19 Aug 11.
  12. Exercise Olympic Guardian
  13. "RAF – Senior Appointments". Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  14. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61636. p. 14549. 4 July 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  15. "Senior appointments". RAF. April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  16. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61092. p. N3. 31 December 2014.
  17. "New Year Honours for service personnel and defence civilians 2015". Retrieved 31 December 2014.
Military offices
Preceded by
Ashley Stevenson
Officer Commanding No. 3 (Fighter) Squadron
Succeeded by
B Hedley
Preceded by
Bob Judson
Station Commander RAF Coningsby
Succeeded by
J Hitchcock
Preceded by
A S Barmby
Air Officer Commanding No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group
Succeeded by
Ashley Stevenson
Preceded by
Mark Abraham
Head of Joint Capability
Succeeded by
Edward Stringer
Preceded by
Greg Bagwell
Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Group
Succeeded by
Gary Waterfall
Preceded by
Greg Bagwell
Deputy Commander Operations, Headquarters Air Command
2016 –
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