Air Marshal Sir Stuart David Atha, (born 30 April 1962) is a former senior officer of the Royal Air Force. He led No. 3 (Fighter) Squadron from 2000 to 2004, which included deployment to Iraq on Operation Telic, commanded RAF Coningsby (2006–08), No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group (2009–10) and No. 1 Group (2011–14), and served as the Air Component Commander for security during the 2012 London Olympics. Atha was Deputy Commander Operations from 2016 to 2019.
Sir Stuart Atha
|Born||30 April 1962|
Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland
|Service/||Royal Air Force|
|Years of service||1984–2019|
|Commands held||No. 1 Group (2011–14)|
No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group (2009–10)
RAF Coningsby (2006–08)
No. 3 (Fighter) Squadron (2000–04)
|Battles/wars||Operation Deliberate Force|
Operation Allied Force
Iraq War War in Afghanistan
|Awards||Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire|
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service
Atha was born on 30 April 1962 in Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland. He was educated at Kilmarnock Academy, a state secondary school in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire. He studied physics and maths at Glasgow University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in 1984. While at university, he was a member of the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Air Squadron.
Atha was commissioned in the Royal Air Force as a pilot officer on 14 October 1984, promoted to flying officer on 14 April 1985 (with seniority from 14 October 1982), flight lieutenant on 14 April 1986, and squadron leader on 1 July 1995.
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 to wing commander on 1 July 1999. He then assumed command of No 3 (Fighter) Squadron, again flying the Harrier GR7.
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 to group captain on 1 January 2005. In early 2006, he attended the Higher Command and Staff Course. Atha was station commander of RAF Coningsby from 1 December 2006 to 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. He was appointed Aide-de-Camp to the Queen on 12 February 2007.
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. He was promoted to air vice marshal and appointed Air Officer Commanding No.1 Group RAF on 12 August 2011.
Atha served as the Air Component Commander for the London Olympics Air Security in 2012. He was appointed Chief of Staff (Operations) at the Permanent Joint Headquarters in 2014; he handed over to Air Vice Marshal Gary Waterfall on 16 May 2016. He was promoted to air marshal on 27 May 2016. In June 2016, he became Deputy Commander Operations at RAF Air Command in succession to Air Marshal Greg Bagwell.