McDonald, who will be promoted to Air Vice-Marshal, will assume the role of DCAF in July, when current deputy chief Air Vice-Marshal Leo Davies will be appointed Chief of Air Force, in turn replacing the current retiring chief, Air Marshal Geoff Brown.
“Air Commodore McDonald has excelled in a number of senior command appointments and brings a wide range of operational and staff experience to the role,” AIRMSHL Brown said in a statement on Tuesday.
“His appointment as Deputy Chief of Air Force recognises his strong performance and significant contributions to Air Force.”
Air Commodore McDonald joined the RAAF aged 15 as an apprentice motor transport fitter. After commissioning and undergoing pilot training in 1989 McDonald would enjoy a long career in the P-3C/AP-3C maritime patrol world – with over 5,000 hours on type – rising to become commanding officer of 11 Squadron in 2007 and then officer commanding 92 Wing in 2009.
In late 2011 McDonald deployed to the Middle East as the Australian Air Component Commander for Joint Task Force 633 as part of Operation Slipper, before returning to Australia in May 2012 when he was promoted to Air Commodore and appointed Director General Capability Planning – Air Force. He subsequently assumed command of Air Mobility Group in December 2013.