The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence announced the appointment of Air Marshal M E (Sammy) Sampson as new Defence Senior Military Adviser to the Middle East and North Africa.

Air Marshal Martin Sampson was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1986. Following flying training he was posted to fly the Jaguar where he served for 3 years as a Pilot and Electronic Warfare Officer before transitioning to the Harrier after the 1991 Gulf Conflict. As a Qualified Weapons Instructor on the Harrier, he has flown over 500 operational missions over Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, served on an exchange tour for 3 years with the United States Marine Corps in Arizona flying AV8B and F-5 and completed a tour as Harrier Test and Evaluation pilot and staff officer on the Strike Attack and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit. Upon completion of Advanced Command and Staff Course, he served with United States Central Command (CENTCOM).

He commanded Number 1(Fighter) Squadron from June 2004 to December 2006, a period that included introducing the Harrier GR9 into Front-line service, numerous Aircraft Carrier deployments with the Royal Navy and 3 operational tours in Afghanistan in support of Operation HERRICK. For operations in Afghanistan he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

He was appointed Personal Staff Officer to the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff in December 2006. Upon promotion to Group Captain in December 2008 he was posted to MOD Joint Capability as Assistant Head Joint Strike and ISTAR where his responsibilities spanned Joint Strike, ISTAR, Space, Special Capabilities, Air Transport and AAR, Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence, Defence Electronic Warfare and Cyber. He was also the RAF’s Delegated Release to Service authority for all Fixed and Rotary Wing Royal Air Force Platforms. Following this, he deployed to the United States Marine Corps Headquarters, Regional Command (South West) in Afghanistan as their Fires and Effects Co-ordinator and Head of Strategic Communications.

Sampson commanded Royal Air Force Coningsby as the RAF Typhoon Force Commander from December 2010 to October 2012 during which time he deployed to Gioia Del Colle, Italy as Expeditionary Air Wing Commander for the RAF Fast Jet operations over Libya (Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR) as well as flying Typhoon he completed 2 display seasons flying Spitfire and Hurricane with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. On promotion to Air Commodore in November 2012 he was appointed the Joint Force Air Component Commander. He assumed the position of Air Officer Commanding 83 Expeditionary Air Group and UK Air Component Commander, in November 2014 and completed 2 years in command of all RAF Operations in Iraq and Syria under Operation SHADER. For his service during this period, Sampson was appointed as Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He has accumulated over 3500 fast jet single-seat flying hours on Jaguar, Harrier and Typhoon. Sampson attended the Higher Command and Staff Course at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham in 2017.

Air Marshal Sampson was appointed as Director of the MOD Saudi Armed Forces Projects in January 2018. Upon commencing his work, Air Marshal M E (Sammy) Sampson said, “I am absolutely delighted. It is a huge honour and a privilege to be entrusted with this unique and important responsibility. 

I look forward to visiting your countries very soon, to deepen my existing friendships and to develop new and fruitful friendships.  You have my commitment that I will bring energy to the role, to develop our strong bilateral relationships, to collaborate on areas of shared interest and to support and assist in wider regional issues.  I wish you all the very best, and look forward to immersing myself in the culture, traditions and history of your wonderful countries.”

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