LONDON (CNNfn) - France's Aérospatiale Matra and Lockheed Martin are discussing a pact that could give a contract to the U.S. defense company from the European Airbus Industrie consortium, according to a report published Friday.
The potential deal is one of several cross-border aerospace ties being discussed ahead of the Paris Air Show, the industry's key showcase that starts Saturday at Le Bourget airport outside the French capital.
Lockheed Martin chairman Vance Coffman told France's Les Echos newspaper that the companies were examining a military derivative of the Airbus A319 jet that could be used as a fuel tanker and surveillance aircraft.
Coffman gave the newspaper no time frame or value for the potential deal.
A deal with Lockheed would mark the first step in the commercialization of Aérospatiale Matra following the French government's sale of a 17 percent stake this week.
Aérospatiale shares climbed 0.5 percent to 22.21 euros in early trading Friday, well ahead of their 19 euro issue price.
The French company is a key partner in the four-nation Airbus group alongside DaimlerChrysler's (DCX) Dasa subsidiary, British Aerospace (BA.) and Spain's Casa.
Lockheed has already been in talks with the Airbus partners about work on their planned A3XX super jumbo aircraft that would seat up to 600 passengers.
The U.S. company is keen to develop its commercial aerospace interests in the wake of the global squeeze on military spending.
Separately, Aérospatiale's hopes of taking a stake in Casa, which is slated for privatization this year, faded Friday. The Spanish government said Friday it would meet officials from Dasa to finalize its strategic partnership. However, the government said no final decision has been taken
British Aerospace and Italy's Finnmecanica have also expressed interest in Casa.
The Spanish government is slated to float a stake in the company before the end of the year.
-- from staff and wire reports