The U.S. Senate on July 26 confirmed Frank Kendall as Air Force secretary by voice vote.
Kendall served as the Pentagon acquisition chief during the Obama administration and is a U.S. Army veteran and former Raytheon Technologies [RTX] executive. He also served on the board of directors of Leidos [LDOS] and Leonardo Electronics USA.
During his Senate Armed Services Committee nomination hearing in May, Kendall said that continued buys of the Lockheed Martin [LMT} F-35 would help drive down the fifth generation fighter’s costs (Defense Daily, May 25).
Kendall, who had spearheaded a two-year production pause for the U.S. Marine Corps’ version of the F-35 during the Obama administration, told SASC that the F-35 “is a complex, expensive weapon, unfortunately, but it is a dominant weapon when it comes up against earlier generation aircraft.” During the hearing, Kendall affirmed his commitment to the F-35 for the Air Force, Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, and international partners.
Three senators had placed a hold on Kendall’s nomination, including Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.),who believed that Michigan’s Selfridge Air National Guard Base should have come out on top in a bid to become the F-35 international training center, instead awarded to Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Arkansas; Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), whose office did not disclose Lee’s reasons for objecting to Kendall; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who was concerned about possible conflicts of interest that Kendall may have as a former corporate vice president of engineering at Raytheon Technologies.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who sat on Raytheon’s board before becoming defense secretary, said in a statement on July 27 that Kendall’s “decades of expertise and impact in service to our national security and defense make him an unmatched asset for the challenges we face today.”
“Throughout his career, Frank has led the department’s acquisition efforts to equip our warfighters with the latest capabilities and cutting-edge weaponry for the battlefield, educated our next generation of leaders at West Point, and served as a human rights lawyer,” Austin said. “And as a former active duty soldier, Frank understands firsthand the commitment and sacrifice our troops give day in and day out.”