US Air Force secretary Michael Donley will step down on 21 June completing a nearly five-year tenure at the helm of the world's most powerful air arm.

"The air force has been a way of life for so much of my career, I know it will be bittersweet to say farewell," Donley says.

Donley was confirmed as secretary of the air force on 2 October, 2008, after then-secretary of defence Robert Gates fired his predessor Michael Wynne and then USAF chief of staff Gen Michael Moseley due the service's mishandling of nuclear weapons and disagreements over production of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.

"[Donley's] leadership came during a challenging time for the air force, and he helped instill a culture of responsibility, initiative and professionalism to the service," says current secretary of defence Chuck Hagel. "Mike has been an unwavering champion for our airmen, their families, and for American airpower."

Donley's replacement has not been named, but sources indicate that the Obama Administration would prefer a female candidate for the office.

Source: Flight International