Chief of the Air Staff

Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston CBE

Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston CBE

Biography

Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston was appointed Chief of the Air Staff on 26 July 2019.

Commissioned on a University Cadetship in 1986, he completed his pilot training on the Tornado GR1 in 1992 followed by a succession of frontline tours, including operational deployments enforcing the no-fly zones in Iraq. He commanded 12(Bomber) Squadron, flying the Tornado GR4 and leading the Squadron on two operational tours in Iraq and large force exercises in Canada, Malaysia and the USA. Appointments in operational headquarters have included Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar, as the Chief of Combat Operations in the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre; Basrah International Airport, Iraq as Commander 903 Expeditionary Air Wing; and one year in Afghanistan as the Director Air Operations in Headquarters ISAF Joint Command. He was appointed CBE in 2013 for his contribution to that mission.

Staff appointments in the Ministry of Defence have included the Operations Directorate and the predecessor to what is now Military Strategic Effects. In 2013, after a short spell as the Tornado Force Commander, he became the Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of Defence Staff. In January 2015, he was appointed Administrator of the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia and Commander British Forces Cyprus, responsible for the civil governance of the Sovereign Base Areas and command of British forces based permanently in Cyprus.

Senior Royal Air Force appointments have included Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, responsible for the strategic coherence and coordination of the Royal Air Force, and oversight of the RAF100 centenary programme.

Prior to becoming Chief of the Air Staff, he was Deputy Commander Capability, responsible for the strategic planning and delivery of all aspects of Royal Air Force capability including people, equipment, infrastructure and training.

Education and training includes reading Engineering Science at Oriel College, Oxford; the Advanced Command and Staff Course; an MA in Defence Studies from King’s College London; the Higher Command and Staff Course; and the UK Pinnacle Course.

He is a Vice Patron of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust and President of the Royal Air Force Rowing Association.

He is married to Kate, a solicitor, and they have two grown up children. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing.

Chief of the Air Staff

The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) is the 4-star commander and professional head of the Royal Air Force (RAF). He is accountable to the Secretary of State (SoS) for its fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale. Reporting through the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), CAS is responsible for the development, generation, integration and sustainment of the RAF in accordance with Defence policy and priorities to meet CDS’s strategic objectives.

As a Service Chief of Staff, he has the right of direct access to the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister. CAS chairs the Air Force Board Standing Committee, and is a member of the Defence Council, the Air Force Board, the Armed Forces Committee, the Chiefs’ of Staff Committee and the Senior Appointments Committee.

Responsibilities

As the RAF progressively adopts responsibility for Air Capability planning and management from MOD Head Office, CAS will be responsible for commissioning RAF equipment, materiel and other support requirements. Current responsibilities for CAS include:

  • managing the AIR Top-Level Budget to deliver the RAF’s Command Plan, in accordance with defence priorities and standing military tasks within the delegated funding
  • ensuring the long-term health of the service, focusing on professional standards, ethos, welfare, career management and morale
  • ensuring that the whole force, including civil servants and contractors, plays its part in delivering the required operational effects as components of a single team
  • advising on the development and maintenance of the optimum coherent set of requirements that UK defence requires
  • providing CDS, MOD and the government with advice and recommendations on the operational employment of the RAF and contributing military experience and knowledge to assist in the development of defence policy