The two countries signed an agreement with a view to sharing C-130J Super Hercules military transport planes, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in Paris.
His German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen, in Paris to sign the deal, told reporters both countries wanted to have the new arrangement in place by 2021.
France ordered four C-130Js from US company Lockheed in January.
Germany was looking to acquire between four and six of the same aircraft and to base them in France, said Von der Leyen. The two countries were looking at using an air base in Orleans, central France, she added.
A member of Le Drian's team said the idea was to make the planes operational for both French and German crew in a first for the two air forces.
In July, just weeks after Britain's referendum vote to quit the European Union, Von der Leyen said London had "paralysed" European efforts for a more closely integrated policy.
The EU should seize the opportunity to change that, she argued.
French officials told AFP last month that Paris and Berlin were drawing up plans for a more "active and useful" defence policy.