Admiral Xavier Païtard was born in 1954 and joined the French Naval Academy in Brest in September 1974. He was commissioned in 1977 on board FS Jeanne D’Arc.
His first assignment was on board FS Commandant Bory in the Pacific Ocean, where he gained his Surface Warfare qualifications. Between 1981 and 1982, he flew Super-Etendards off the aircraft carriers Foch and Clemenceau. In 1982, he was an exchange pilot with the US Navy and flew A-7E off the USS Independence, during which time he flew several combat missions over Grenada in 1983 and over Lebanon in 1984, when he awarded his first Citation.
He continued his flying career with Super-Etendards and in 1988 was appointed as Air Operations Staff Officer on board Clemenceau during her long operational deployment in the Arabian Sea. During this tour he became the Commander for the 11F Attack Squadron. He had appointments at the Naval War College, Nuclear Engineers School, and further tours on board Clemenceau as Operations Officer, Commanding Officer of FS Floréal and Head of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier Programme.
In 1998, he was Deputy CJFACC for the NATO exercises Unified Endevour and Strong Resolve and in 1999 he graduated from the NATO Defence College where he spent 2 years as the Director of Curriculum Programmes and Developments.
In 2001 he was selected by the Minister of Defence to lead the International Relations Cell in the Ministerial Cabinet and was promoted to Rear Admiral in August 2003.
Assigned to Norfolk Virginia as Head of the French Military Mission to Allied Command Transformation he took over in May 2004 the position of Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff “Future Capabilities research & Technology”.
On September 2005, he was appointed as top military advisor to the Minister of Defense.
On February 1, 2006, he was promoted to the rank of vice admiral. On December 1, 2006, he was promoted to the rank of “vice-amiral d’escadre”.
Admiral Païtard has total of 2800 flight hours in jets and 550 arrested landings. He is an Officer of the Legion of Honour, a Chevalier of the National Order of Merit and holds the Cross of Military Valour. He is married to Monique and has nine children, five daughters and four sons.