General Mark Welsh has been nominated to become the next chief of staff of the US Air Force.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced Welsh's nomination on 10 May.

"I believe that he has the right leadership qualities and distinguished background to follow his extraordinary predecessor, General [Norton] Schwartz," he says.

Welsh, who currently leads the USAF in Europe (USAFE), says he is honoured to have been nominated.

"I'm tremendously honoured and deeply humbled by the nomination to serve as the next Air Force chief of staff," he says.

Before taking over USAFE, Welsh was an associate director of the Central Intelligence Agency and worked closely with Panetta. He is a fighter pilot who has logged more than 3,400h in the Lockheed Martin F-16 and Fairchild Republic A-10 Warthog.

Welsh still has to be confirmed by the US Senate, which is expected in the coming months before Schwartz retires in August.

Source: Flight International