PARIS — NATO has appointed French Air Force Gen. André Lanata, a former fighter pilot, as the next head of Allied Command Transformation, one of the top posts at the military coalition.
“Florence Parly welcomes the appointment by the North Atlantic Council of Gen. André Lanata, Air chief of staff, as the next Supreme Allied Commander Transformation,” the Armed Forces ministry said June 7.
Lanata will take up his post in September, when Air Force Gen. Denis Mercier will hand over command, a French Air Force spokesman said. Mercier will step down from the service’s active service list. Parly paid tribute to Mercier’s “remarkable” service at the command.
Paris values the appointment of a French officer to the NATO base in Norfolk, Virginia, which, with Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, is one of the top two strategic commands.
“The allied command for transformation plays a key role in assuring the alliance’s capability to anticipate and prepare for the technological and operational challenges,” the ministry said.
Lanata was appointed air chief of staff in 2015. The top air force officer flew 146 combat missions in six theaters of operations, flying more than 3,300 hours, mostly on the Mirage F1CR and Mirage 2000D. Under Lanata’s command, the service flew operations over Iraq and Syria, while supporting the Barkhane operations across Africa.
Lanata would also have contributed to the drafting of the strategic defense review, multiyear budget law for 2019-2025 and the Future Combat Air System. Lanata will be the fourth French air chief to take up the NATO ACT post, following in the flight path of Stéphane Abrial, Jean-Paul Palomeros and Mercier.
A French officer heading that command was one of the conditions negotiated when France returned to the alliance in 2009.