The U.S. Air Force has selected Bill LaPlante to fill the role of principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and management.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley made the announcement April 23 at a meeting of the Defense Writer’s Group. Donley said LaPlante will begin work May 6.

“We have filled the position of the principal deputy for acquisition with a superb engineer, Dr. Bill LaPlante from the MITRE corporation,” Donley told reporters. “He’s an experienced engineer, he runs the missile defense work at MITRE. A broad range of experience at ISR, sensors, communications and other areas. He’s done some deeper work on Navy issues, but has a broad range of technical expertise. I think he’ll be a great addition to the Air Force acquisition team.”

Despite the announcement, Donley said he will retain service acquisition executive authority.

LaPlante is replacing David Van Buren, who retired in March 2012. The role of assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition remains vacant. Sue Payton, who retired in the spring of 2009, was the last person to be confirmed for that role; Van Buren served in a dual capacity for both jobs until his retirement.

LaPlante’s position does not require congressional appointment, an Air Force spokeswoman confirmed.