French aerospace giant Dassault Aviation has named Eric Trappier to replace outgoing Chairman and Chief Executive Charles Edelstenne, who will step down Jan. 8.

As the company’s international executive vice president, Trappier is credited with successfully negotiating the six-nation Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator and leading the €11 billion ($14.5 billion) sale of 126 Rafale fighter jets to India. The latter is a deal Trappier will be under intense pressure to close next year with New Delhi, while pushing additional export deals with Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.

Trappier, 53, has spent his entire career at Dassault, which he joined in 1984 as an engineer in the design office responsible for weapons systems. He became deputy director of the group in 2002 before assuming his current role in 2006.

His succession, announced Dec. 18 following a meeting of Dassault’s board of directors, comes in tandem with the appointment of Loik Segalen to the post of chief operating officer. Segalen, who was also a front-runner for Edelstenne’s job, is currently Dassault’s chief of economic and social affairs.

Edelstenne, who turns 75 next month, has served at the company’s helm for the past 12 years. He announced his retirement several weeks ago in accordance with Dassault’s statutory age limits on executive leadership.

Rafale photo: DassaultAviation