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Obama nominates acting arms buyer to stay in job

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Frank Kendall to become the Pentagon's acquisition chief, a job he has been doing on an acting basis since October.

Kendall, a former executive with weapons maker Raytheon Co, had been the No. 2 arms buyer until his boss, Ashton Carter, moved from the top procurement job to become Deputy Secretary of Defense, in October.

Kendall and Carter both joined Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for a meeting on Friday with nearly 40 top aerospace and defense industry executives, who are awaiting news about the Pentagon's budget request for fiscal 2013.

Panetta is expected to explain highlights of the 2013 budget request and a five-year spending plan on Thursday, mapping out how the department plans to cut $260 billion from defense spending over that period.

Kendall, a retired Army officer, has held a series of senior Defense Department jobs since 1982, and served as a managing partner at Renaissance Strategic Advisors from 2008 to 2010.

As the Pentagon's top arms buyer, Kendall will oversee major weapons programs, including Lockheed Martin Corp's $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is facing its third restructuring in three years.

Obama also nominated Erin Conaton, a long-time House staffer and now the Air Force Undersecretary, to become Undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, and James Miller to become Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

He nominated Robert Stevens, chief executive of Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon's largest supplier, as a member of a federal advisory committee for trade policy.

(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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