New RAF and Royal Navy chiefs appointed as part of armed forces update
The British armed forces have four new senior chiefs, including new heads of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy.
Vice Admiral Tony Radakin has been named first sea lord and chief of naval staff, succeeding Admiral Sir Philip Jones, and Air Marshal Michael Wigston will be the next chief of the air staff, replacing Air Chief Marshal Sir Steven Hillier.
Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders will become commander joint forces command and Vice Admiral Timothy Fraser has been promoted to vice chief of the defence staff.
The four roles are the most senior in the military below the chief of the defence staff, General Sir Nick Carter.
The appointments were approved by the Queen and announced by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Confirming the news, Mr Williamson said: “Forward-looking and keen to modernise the Armed Forces, these are the transformational leaders we need in these challenging times.
“The appointment of a new generation of commanders will ensure that Britain remains ready to face the threats of tomorrow and continues to be a major player on the world stage.”
General Mark Carlton-Smith remains the head of the army, having only recently taken over.
The four new appointments will take up their posts next year, at a time when the RAF is still fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The number of British troops stationed in Afghanistan has also recently increased and Russia remains a growing threat in eastern Europe.
The chiefs of the RAF and Royal Navy might also be heading towards a showdown over future orders of the F35 stealth fighter jet, with Sky News having reported last week that there was internal friction because the RAF wanted to order a version of the jet that could not fly from the new aircraft carriers.
One source told Sky News: “This will completely undermine the whole carrier programme.
“There is no operational reason whatsoever for the RAF to have the A (land-based) variant (of the F-35). If it can’t fly from an aircraft carrier, it shouldn’t be purchased.”