WASHINGTON — The Air Force’s top uniformed acquisition official has been tapped to pin on his fourth star and take the reins of Air Force Materiel Command.

Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch has served as military deputy of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition since 2015.

Following the departure of former Air Force acquisition head Bill LaPlante in 2015, Bunch became the public face of Air Force acquisition, making regular appearances at trade shows, industry meetings and roundtables with reporters while his civilian counterpart — Darlene Costello, principal deputy assistant secretary of Air Force acquisition, technology and logistics — played a behind the scenes role leading the service’s procurement efforts.

Since former AFMC head Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski retired this summer, rumors have swirled over who would fill her position, with Bunch emerging as a major contender.

A frequent face on Capitol Hill during acquisition hearings, he is likely to fly through the nomination process, which requires Senate confirmation.

Bunch will be able to put his technological know-how to use at AFMC, which is responsible for overseeing the development of emerging technologies through Air Force Research Laboratory, the development of acquisition professionals, and the sustainment of legacy aircraft at air logistics complexes. The organization, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, also plays a key role in the test and evaluation of new platforms and logistics.

AFMC manages $60 billion of the Air Force’s budget annually, with about 80,000 people employed across the the organization.

“No stranger to AFMC or to Wright-Patterson, Bunch has served in a number of leadership roles in the weapons development, acquisition, and test communities, including Program Executive Officer for Fighters and Bombers, commander of the Air Force Security Assistance Center, and commander of the Air Force Test Center. The B-52 and B-2 bombers are among the many aircraft he has flown,” AFMC stated in a news release.

Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.

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