France Needs New Tankers, Too

France’s military is watching the now-pending reboot of the Pentagon’s KC-X tanker competition with great interest, not only due to the stake European aerospace giant EADS has in the outcome, but also because the French Air Force is in the early stages of recapitalizing its own C-135 aerial refueling fleet, the country’s defense attaché in Washington, D.C., said yesterday. “The only thing I would say about the [KC-X] tanker is that I hope it gets out to the Air Force as soon as possible, as they need the capability,” French Air Force Maj. Gen. Gratien Maire told reporters Wednesday. Maire also said he hopes that the new US tanker will be fully interoperable with French and NATO forces. Looking inward, Maire said France is “in the process now of considering what the options are” for replacing its 14 C-135 tankers. He added that no timeline has been established yet for a request for information to industry. He noted, too, “Whoever wants to compete will be welcome,” apparently signaling that Boeing, chief rival to Airbus, the large aircraft manufacturing arm for EADS, would be able to bid.