Rider Profile: JET Patron AVM Harvey Smyth
Air Vice-Marshal Harv Smyth is Air Officer Commanding Number 1 Group (AOC 1Gp), responsible for the force generation of the Air Combat Group of the Royal Air Force, including Typhoon Force, Lightning Force (inc Carrier Strike), the Air Warfare Centre, and all air-related Test & Evaluation.
Smyth was born and educated in Northern Ireland, and joined the Royal Air Force in 1991 via the Sixth Form and Flying Scholarship Schemes. After completion of fast-jet flying training, he was posted to the Harrier Force and thereafter embarked upon a 15-year front line flying career as a Harrier pilot and Weapons Instructor, serving on every RAF Harrier squadron and all three Royal Navy aircraft carriers. As a pilot, he has extensive combat experience having flown hundreds of operational missions from both land bases and aircraft carriers, in multiple theatres, including: Bosnia; Kosovo; Serbia; Iraq; and Afghanistan.
In 2013 Smyth became the Station Commander of RAF Marham, the home of the frontline Tornado Force. During this tour, he flew the Tornado and led the Station through a period of unprecedented operational tempo including the final year of UK’s combat air operations in Afghanistan, the RAF’s first fast jet deployment to Africa since 1965 and, the reestablishment of combat ops in Iraq/Syria as part of the ongoing Counter-Daesh campaign. After Station Command, Smyth promoted to Air Cdre and became the Tornado Force Commander, responsible for the generation of the Tornado Force for combat operations in the Middle East, and maintenance of the RAF’s sole strategic strike capability. Following this, he became the UK’s first F-35 Lightning Force Commander, primarily focused on the growth of the UK’s nascent Lightning Force and the establishment of Lightning Initial Operational Capability, including the £½Bn infrastructure redevelopment of RAF Marham as the Lightning’s main operating base and preparations for Carrier Strike operations from the UK’s new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers. He followed Force Command with a short appointment as the Head of Carrier Enabled Power Projection (Hd CEPP) within MoD’s Fin Mil Cap area, which included HMS Queen Elizabeth’s initial sea trials and the formal naming of HMS Prince of Wales. Following this, Smyth conducted an operational out-of-area tour as the CAOC Director at Al Udeid in Qatar: a US-embed role wherein he was responsible for the planning and execution of ~1000 air missions per day, focused primarily on the Arabian Gulf, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen. Promoted to Air Vice-Marshal in April 2018, Smyth converted to the multi-role Typhoon aircraft, and became AOC 1Gp in July 2018.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 2003 for air operations in Iraq’s Western Desert, was appointed OBE in 2011 after his command of Number IV(Army Co-operation) Squadron, and received the Meritorious Service Medal and the Legion of Merit from the US Sec Def in 2013 and 2018 respectively. From 2013-15 Smyth had the honour of being an Aide de Camp to Her Majesty The Queen.
Married with 2 teenaged daughters, Smyth’s interests beyond family and flying include: walking his inexhaustible Springador dog; rough shooting; reading military history; and, completing ‘fitness challenges’ for charity. He is a Patron of the Jon Egging Trust, a Vice-President of RAF Rugby, and the President of the RAF Small Arms Association. With strong links to Northern Ireland, Smyth is also Honorary Colonel for the 2nd Battalion (Northern Ireland) Army Cadet Force, Senior Mentor to the Northern Ireland Universities’ Air Squadron, and Patron of the Ulster Aviation Society.