Air Commodore Dave Waddington joined the Royal Air Force in 1985 and completed his officer and flying training at the RAF College Cranwell, RAF Valley and RAF Brawdy. In 1988, after completion of conversion training on the Tornado GR1, he was posted to No 27 Squadron, based at RAF Marham, specialising in the nuclear strike and conventional attack roles. During this tour he was deployed on Operation GRANBY as part of the coalition campaign to liberate Kuwait. On 19 January 1991 his aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile while carrying out an attack on an Iraqi airfield and he was forced to eject, subsequently captured and was then held as a prisoner of war for over six weeks.
After returning to flying duties he successfully completed training as a Qualified Weapons Instructor and was then posted to the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit, later XV(R) Squadron, as an instructor. In 1994 he was posted as an exchange officer with the French Air Force flying the Mirage 2000D, which had just entered into service. On promotion to Squadron Leader he returned to the UK to take up an appointment as the fast jet specialist at the Inspectorate of Flight Safety before returning to the Tornado GR4 force as the Executive Officer on No 31 Squadron, based initially at RAF Bruggen and then re-locating to RAF Marham. He then spent a brief time at the Air Warfare Centre as a tactics, trials and development officer before undertaking the Advanced Command and Staff College at Shrivenham. On graduation from the course he was promoted to Wing Commander and spent over 2 years in the MOD with responsibility for Jaguar, Harrier and Tornado future capability programmes.
Air Commodore Waddington returned to command and flying duties in 2006 when he took command of IX (Bomber) Squadron at RAF Marham, leading his squadron on 2 operation tours over Iraq and several overseas deployments. He was promoted to Group Captain in 2008 and took up an appointment in MOD as the Assistant Head in International Policy and Plans with specific responsibility for the Levant and Gulf regions. Following 12 months in this post he was posted to RAF Cranwell as the Commanding Officer from February 2010 until December 2011. More recently, he was deployed as the commanding officer of Camp Bastion and 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, the UK's strategic air hub in Afghanistan and on his return attended the Royal College of Defence Studies. He was promoted to Air Commodore in February 2013, returning to the Tornado as the Force Commander with additional responsibilities for the introduction into Service of F35B ‘Lightning 2’. He was appointed Commander of the British Empire in recognition of his work during this period. Air Commodore Waddington retired from the RAF in September 2015 and became the Managing Director of a defence consultancy business before moving to CAE in February 2017, where he now leads the Strategy and Business Development team for military flight training opportunities.