Bob Richardson qualified as an RAAF fighter pilot in 1962, and flew Sabre aircraft with 77 Squadron in Malaysia, Singapore, and Labuan North Borneo for nearly three years during the Indonesian Confrontation crisis.


He was also attached to 79 Fighter Squadron in Thailand four times for SEATO air defence operations.


After a tour as a flying instructor, he qualified at the United Kingdom Empire Test Pilots' School in 1968, and subsequently spent 13 years on experimental and developmental test flying activities and supervision at the RAAF Aircraft Research and Development Unit, including several years on Sabre, Mirage and Macchi acceptance testing.  


He was actively involved in the evaluation of the Mirage replacement, culminating in the selection of the F/A 18 Hornet fighter in 1981. He was the first Australian to fly the prototype Hornet in 1980.


He was promoted to Director-General Manning-Air Force 1988, after which he completed the 1991 Royal College of Defence Studies course in London. He was then appointed Air Officer Commanding Training Command in 1992, leaving early in late 1983 to be the sole military author of the 1994 Defence White Paper ‘Defending Australia’ for the Keating Government, working directly to Defence Minister Robert Ray. After further appointments as Chief of Air Force Personnel and Budget and Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, he transferred to the Air Force Reserve in 1997 and retired after 41 years in 2002.


Bob flew over 5000 hours in 25 RAAF, Army and foreign military aircraft, and 250 hours in sailplanes.