Ex-Air Force secretary joins defense contractor Textron's board

Ex-Air Force secretary joins defense contractor Textron's board
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Defense contractor Textron is naming former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James to its board of directors, effective July 1.

In a statement announcing the move, the company praised James's "deep expertise in national security, government procurement, strategic planning, cybersecurity, logistics and innovation” as a benefit to Textron.

“As Secretary of the Air Force, Ms. James oversaw the Air Force's annual budget of more than $139 billion. She led the Air Force in reaching key milestones in the next generation fighter (F-35) program and the refueling aircraft program (KC-46), as well as in launching important modernization programs, including a new combat rescue helicopter, long-range strategic bomber and trainer aircraft,” the statement said.

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James was the 23rd secretary of the Air Force, from 2013 to January of this year. Former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson (R) was sworn in as her replacement in mid-May.

Prior to her role as secretary, James held several executive positions during an 11-year stint at national security firm Saic Inc.

Textron is currently up against Sierra Nevada in an Air Force demonstration slated for July. The light attack aircraft demonstration will feature Textron’s AirLand Scorpion jet and Beechcraft AT-6, as well as Sierra Nevada and Brazilian firm Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano.

The event at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico could lead to the Air Force establishing a new program to buy such an aircraft.