WASHINGTON — Air Force acquisition chief William LaPlante will leave his position for a job at the MITRE Corporation, the service announced Wednesday afternoon.

LaPlante has served for three years as the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition. He will transition to a senior position at MITRE, a not-for-profit organization that operates federally funded research and development centers, according to a news release. Before joining the Pentagon in 2013, LaPlante was director of MITRE's Missile Defense Portfolio.

In the statement, top Air Force leadership praised LaPlante’s leadership in in managing the Air Force's $43 billion per year acquisition enterprise. LaPlante saved the Air Force nearly $6 billion in "should-cost" savings" during his tenure, according to the release.

"Dr. LaPlante has been a great partner over the last 3 years! His leadership has been a huge strength of our Air Force as he focused acquisition activities on increased warfighting capability at an affordable cost," said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh, according to the statement.

LaPlante also played a crucial role in the procurement of the Long Range Strike Bomber, which was awarded to Northrop Grumman last month. LaPlante originally planned to leave his position earlier this year, but extended his service through the much-delayed contract award, according to the statement.

"Bill has been a true leader for Air Force acquisition and a great contributor to the department's successful efforts to improve the performance of all defense acquisition," said Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, according to the release. "During his tenure, I have worked with Bill to implement both Air Force and DOD acquisition improvement initiatives on many fronts. His efforts have saved billions of dollars, brought program risks and costs under control, and enhanced the professionalism of the Air Force acquisition team."

LaPlante said being Air Force acquisition chief has been "the best job I've ever had," but now he needs to "honor a long-planned commitment" to his family, according to the statement.

Email: lseligman@defensenews.com

Twitter: @laraseligman

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