Air Marshal Sir Christopher Harper
2013 – 2016
Having joined the Royal Air Force as an officer cadet in 1976, Air Marshal Sir Christopher Harper was posted to No 41 (Fighter) Squadron in 1979 to fly the Jaguar aircraft before moving to serve as a qualified weapons instructor with 31 and then 14 Squadron. He then took up an exchange appointment with the Canadian Air Force flying the multi-role CF-18 Hornet with No 421 Squadron. He commanded 41 (Fighter) Squadron from 1994 to 1997 and, during that tour, flew with his squadron on active operations over Bosnia. He went on to serve as the Station Commander and Jaguar Force Commander at RAF Coltishall from 1999 to 2001, throughout which time the Jaguar Force was continually involved in operations over Northern Iraq. As the Air Officer Commanding of No 1 Group from 2007 to 2009, Sir Chris was responsible for the generation and delivery of all combat air power for the Royal Air Force.
Sir Chris’ staff appointments have included: the Ministry of Defence Central Staff working on the Eurofighter-Typhoon project; Military Assistant to the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for the Armed Forces; Command Group Executive Officer at NATO's Headquarters Allied Air Forces Central Europe; Air Commodore Typhoon at Headquarters No 1 Group; Director of Joint Commitments at the Ministry of Defence; and Chief of Staff (Operations) at Headquarters Air Command. From 2009 to 2011, he was the Deputy Commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command at Brunssum in the Netherlands. Sir Chris was appointed as the United Kingdom’s Military Representative to NATO and the European Union in March 2011, and was elected to become Director General of the NATO International Military Staff in July 2013.
A former pupil of Alleyn’s School in Dulwich, Sir Chris is a graduate of King's College London, the RAF Staff College, and the United Kingdom’s Higher Command and Staff Course. He was mentioned in dispatches for his involvement in air operations over Iraq and was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2002. He was subsequently appointed Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2011. Sir Chris is the President of the Royal Air Force Flying Clubs Association; President of the No 41 Squadron Association; Honorary President of No 1475 Squadron, Air Training Corps; Serving Vice-President of the Royal Air Forces Association in Europe; Vice-President of the RAF Club; Vice-President of the Royal International Air Tattoo, and Vice-President of the Edward Alleyn Club.
Sir Chris is married to Jan; their son Ben is an aspiring young actor who recently graduated from the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London. Sir Chris has retained a love of flying; he built and flies a Vans RV8 aircraft and is an active member of the Air Squadron. He also enjoys gastronomy, running, jazz and riding an American twin-cylinder motorcycle.