Joint investiture highlights strength of Royal Navy and Royal Air Force partnership

Topic: PeopleSenior leaders

The former head of the Royal Navy and current head of the Royal Air Force have been presented with one of the most senior orders of chivalry at an investiture held at Windsor Castle.

Admiral Sir George Zambellas and Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford were appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the New Year’s Honours List 2016, the only two military personnel to be appointed this year.

The investiture recognises their achievements in leading their respective Services over the past three years, culminating in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review which set out a path of investment for both services.

It also reflects the growing cooperation between the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Pilots from both Services will fly the new F35B Joint Strike Fighter from their main base at RAF Marham and the Royal Navy’s two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

Additionally, when the RAF’s new P8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft enters service it will be crewed with RAF and some Fleet Air Arm personnel.

Both Adm Zambellas and ACM Pulford spent the early years of their careers as helicopter pilots – Adm Zambellas with 814 Naval Air Squadron and ACM Pulford No.72 Sqn. 

ACM Pulford also served in the Falkland Conflict while on exchange with the Royal Navy with C Flight 845 Sqn on board RFA Tidespring, giving him an excellent insight into Naval operations. 

ACM Pulford said: “I am delighted to be able to share this special day with a trusted colleague and friend, Admiral Sir George Zambellas.

"Throughout its 98 year history the Royal Air Force has worked closely with, and for, the Royal Navy and today the men and women of both Services are demonstrating mutual respect and understanding for each other on operations around the world and in the development of the United Kingdom’s F35 Lightning capability.

"Together with the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers and the new P-8 Poseidon, Maritime Patrol Aircraft, these exciting projects will provide a new era for Royal Air Force and Royal Navy cooperation in the maritime environment.

"The Royal Air Force looks forward to providing Air Power from the sea alongside the Royal Navy for many years to come and in the proudest traditions of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces.”

Admiral Sir George Zambellas said: “The partnership between the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force - a complex mix of the sea and the air - has always been complementary.

"Today, this mix is of even greater importance and responsibility, as both Services prepare for the introduction of the two new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

"Today, our people are working side by side to bring the F35B Joint Strike Fighter into efficient use, and also to restore the UK’s Maritime Patrol capability.

"Young Navy and Air Force servicemen and women can claim the same sense of excitement and ambition that I had when I stood in their place 36 years ago and, through their continued partnership, I have no doubt that they will ensure personally that the future of maritime aviation remains in very safe hands."

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The partnership between the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force - a complex mix of the sea and the air - has always been complementary.

Admiral Sir George Zambellas