UK appoints new head of National Cyber Force

Air Vice-Marshal Tim Neal-Hopes OBE has been appointed as the second commander of the UK’s National Cyber Force (NCF).

Established in 2020, the NCF is a partnership between defence and intelligence which carries out cyber operations daily to protect against threats to the UK, further the UK’s foreign policy, support military operations, and prevent serious crime.

Most recently, Neal-Hopes served as director Cyber, Intelligence and Information Integration within UK Strategic Command and will be the first member of the Armed Forces to hold the position.

As well as delivering cyber operations to keep the country safe, he will be responsible for overseeing the NCF’s continued growth as part of the UK’s broader national cyber enterprise, including the opening of NCF’s headquarters in Samlesbury in 2025. He will also continue scaling NCF’s integration with other parts of Government, partners, and a growing number of international allies.

Neal-Hopes replaces the NCF’s first Commander, James Babbage, who has taken up a post as director general Threats (Economic and Organised Crime) at the National Crime Agency.

Announcing the appointment, commander Strategic Command, General Sir Jim Hockenhull said:  “I am delighted to congratulate Air Vice-Marshal Tim Neal-Hopes OBE on his appointment to Commander of the National Cyber Force. Tim’s experience in cyber and intelligence has repeatedly been proven throughout a distinguished military career, and most recently serving at the heart of Defence Intelligence. I am confident the NCF will benefit greatly from his knowledge, experience, and leadership.”

“This is an important time for the NCF. The array of threats that we collectively face through cyberspace is becoming ever more complex and persistent, and the cyber and electromagnetic domain increasingly decisive.”

Director GCHQ, Anne Keast-Butler added: “I am delighted to welcome Air Vice-Marshal Tim Neal-Hopes OBE as the new Commander of the NCF. Tim brings a wealth of experience in intelligence, engineering, and cyber – and he has the vision to lead our dynamic partnership, which is countering state threats, supporting military operations, and disrupting terrorist cells and serious criminals.”

Commander of the NCF, Air Vice-Marshal Tim Neal-Hopes OBE said: “The last two decades of my life have been invested in supporting the evolution of the UK’s cyber power, and so I am immensely proud to take on the role of Commander. The NCF has a clear vision to be a vital tool of the UK’s statecraft, delivering increasing impact for the nation and exemplifying globally the responsible projection of cyber power.”