RAF appoints first female three-star officer

Sue Gray, an RAF engineer, has been promoted to the rank of Air Marshalmaking her the most senior female military officer in the UK Armed Forces.

Air Marshal Gray will soon take up the role of Director General of the Defence Safety Authority – undertaking the roles of regulator, accident investigation and Defence Authority for safety.

“I am incredibly proud to be the most senior female military officer in the British Armed Forces,” Air Marshal Gray explained.

“Throughout my career I have been fortunate to have a job that was more of a way of life, working with likeminded people in an exciting and rewarding environment.

As an Engineer Officer in the Royal Air Force I am part of a team, who succeed together, I have been privileged to lead highly successful teams, military and civil service, through some challenging situations on operations and back at home.”

Air Marshal Gray, 56, first joined the RAF in 1985 and has worked in a variety of roles.

She served as Chief Engineer with the Joint Helicopter Force in Iraq and, more recently, led a team delivering engineering and logistics support for fighter, training and remotely piloted aircraft for all of the Armed Forces.

In June 2016, Air Marshal Sue Gray was appointed Air Officer Commanding Number 38 Group with responsibility for around 3,000 personnel.

Prior to Air Marshal Gray’s promotion, the highest rank held by a regular serving female officer in the RAF was Air Vice-Marshal – a two-star post.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “This is an historic moment as we see the most senior female appointment in the British military.

“Air Marshal Gray’s career shows that with hard work, skill and determination, gender is no obstacle to achieving the top ranks in the Armed Forces.”

Chief of the Air Staff Sir Stephen Hillier described Air Marshal Gray as “a leader” and a “superb role model”, adding he wishes her “every success in her important new role”.

Air Marshal Gray will start her new position in March.