Deborah James’ nomination to be the next Air Force Secretary remained on hold through the end of last week. Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Erika Yepsen told the Daily Report on Oct. 4 that the hold was still in place. The Air Force, she said, one week earlier had provided Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) with responses to the questions that Ayotte wanted answered on the fate of the A-10 fleet. Ayotte placed the hold on the nomination on Sept. 24, concerned that the Air Force intended to retire its A-10s in Fiscal 2015 as a cost-cutting move that would leave a gap in close-air-support capability. She said the hold would stay in place until she received substantive answers from the Air Force about the A-10. Even with answers now in hand, there’s been no word from Ayotte’s office about lifting the hold. “Due to the government shutdown, Senator Ayotte’s office is performing essential legislative operations only and with significantly reduced staff,” stated the senator’s website on Oct. 6. “I am unable to respond at this time” due to the shutdown, stated an automated email reply from Ayotte’s spokeswoman Liz Johnson, in answer to our query.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."