Missouri Democrat Ike Skelton, who served in the House for 34 years and led the House Armed Services Committee from 2006 to 2010, died at an Arlington, Va., hospital on Oct. 28. He was 81. “The Department of Defense lost a lifelong friend yesterday with the passing of former Rep. Ike Skelton,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a statement on Tuesday. “His leadership of the House Armed Services Committee, and his passion for our men and women in uniform, helped make the military he loved stronger,” said Hagel. “America has lost one of her greatest sons,” said HASC Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) in a release. “As the chairman of the Armed Services Committee during a particularly contentious time, he never let partisanship get ahead of his primary responsibility—our troops and their families,” said McKeon. Skelton is credited with building up Missouri’s military installations, including securing the B-2 stealth bomber mission for Whiteman Air Force Base in the late 1980s after the installation lost its Minutemen II ICBMs, reported the Kansas City Star. (See also AFA release.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.