William LaPlante, the Air Force’s acquisition executive, did not slam the door on the potential entry of the Airbus A400M airlifter into the US market. “In general, when we talk with Airbus, we think, the more the merrier… in terms of getting … industry thinking about our missions,” said LaPlante last week during a brief meeting with reporters at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France. The Air Force has sought out Airbus’ attendance at CEO roundtables to discuss technology solutions, he said. Airbus’ Executive Vice President for Defense and Space Marketing and Sales Christian Scherer told Air Force Magazine at the air show that the company is having “dialogue” with the Pentagon. Airbus is working to “educate” US officials on the A400M’s capabilities and trying to get the aircraft plugged into wargaming scenarios, he said. “We are at a point in time where we believe we have such a good story, we are working … to see the US run some scenarios with it,” said Scherer. Interoperability should not be a concern, as several NATO allies operate the airlifter, he said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.