The Chairman, Council and Board of Trustees of the Air League are delighted to announce the appointment of Air Marshal Sir Christopher Harper KBE FRAeS as President of the Air League, succeeding Sir Roger Bone KCMG who is stepping down after six years in the post.
The President of the Air League chairs the Council, an advisory and consultative body composed of senior leaders within UK aviation, aerospace and defence. Council has convened since the founding of the League in 1909 and works closely alongside the Board of Trustees in supporting the Air League’s strategic aims and objectives. The Council also identifies any matters concerning aviation, aerospace and defence that the Air League should engage in, support or highlight.
Sir Chris served in the Royal Air Force for over 40 years. Having learned to fly as an Air Cadet, he joined the RAF as a fighter pilot in 1976. He flew numerous aircraft including the SEPECAT Jaguar, the McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet and, more recently, the Eurofighter Typhoon. He was involved in active operations over Iraq and in the Balkans and commanded at all levels of the Royal Air Force including as the Commander of RAF Coltishall and the RAF Jaguar Force (1999 to 2001), and as Air Officer Commanding of No 1 Group (2007 to 2009).
Sir Chris also held important staff appointments in the UK Ministry of Defence and at the RAF’s Air Command headquarters. His last 7 years in the Royal Air Force saw him working with NATO. From 2009 to 2011 he was Deputy Commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command at Brunssum in the Netherlands; following that, he was the UK’s Military Representative to NATO and the EU. More recently, from 2013 to 2016, he was Director General of the NATO International Military Staff. From this high-level military-diplomatic position in NATO’s HQ in Brussels, he managed the Alliance’s political-military seam and was responsible for developing, negotiating and gaining consensus amongst NATO’s 28 allies for innumerable major NATO strategic policy decisions.
Sir Chris left the Royal Air Force in January 2017. Determined not to let his experience in aviation and the international defence and security domain go to waste, he started a small, independent consultancy company, CH4C Global Ltd, based in Norfolk, UK. The company advises companies such as Improbable, Adarga, Eagle Eye Innovations, Harmonic and, most recently, Accenture.
Sir Chris has a passion for harnessing new, innovative, positively disruptive technology for application in the defence and security sector. He regularly speaks at key events such as the Munich and Berlin Security Conferences and at Wilton Park and was appointed a Non-resident Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council of the United States in 2017. Maintaining his links with the RAF, Sir Chris is the Honorary Air Commodore of No 2620 ‘County of Norfolk’ Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force based at RAF Marham. He is also a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society; he serves on the Society’s Council and on the Committee of its Air Power Group. Sir Chris served as a Trustee of the Air League from 2016 until relinquishing that role on being appointed the League’s President in December 2020. He maintains a lifelong love of flying; he built and flies a Vans RV-8 aircraft in which he and his wife Jan tour regularly.
John Steel QC FRAeS, Chairman of the Air League and Board of Trustees, said:
“The Air League is extremely fortunate that Sir Chris has accepted to be appointed its President. As one of the UK’s most accomplished servicemen and aviators, he will bring immense experience to chair its Council, following Sir Roger Bone, whose contribution has been invaluable. Sir Chris’s term as a trustee has enabled him to gain an in-depth insight into the organisation and we look forward to him continuing to play a key role in its activities as President.“
On being appointed, Sir Chris added:
“I am delighted and honoured to have been invited to become President of the Air League. My own career in aviation started with gliding and flying scholarships during my time as an Air Cadet. It is, therefore, an enormous privilege to have been appointed to such an important role in the organisation that founded the Air Cadet movement in 1938. Ensuring that all young people, from all backgrounds, are aware of and have unfettered access to careers in aviation, aerospace and space has arguably never been more important than today. I am absolutely convinced that the Air League, with its clear and confident campaign objective of ‘Changing Lives Through Aviation,’ can make an immensely positive contribution to this and will greatly look forward to playing my part in ensuring its continued success.”