PARIS (AP) - French defense group Thomson-CSF said it is cutting 4,000 jobs worldwide as part of a three-year plan to raise the company's operating profit.

Company Chairman Denis Ranque said in Monday's edition of the French business daily Les Echos that Thomson aimed to raise operating profits to 7 percent of sales by 2001 from the current 5.7 percent.

Ranque said the defense electronics company's profitability was within the industry's average, ``But it's not enough for whomever wants to be a leader in the sector.''

He said the cuts announced Friday _ nearly 3,000 in France and more than 1,000 elsewhere _ were made necessary by industry changes, the merger with Dassault Electronique and Alcatel's military telecommunications activities and the need to cut production costs.

Ranque said it was possible that all European missile-makers could be part of one company in the very long term.

``Thomson-CSF has confirmed its strategic freedom which can lead us either to reinforce our ties with Aerospatiale-Matra, which are already very strong, or to look for other European alliances which would be more structural and global,'' he said.

Within Europe's defense industry, Ranque said that ``our natural partner would be GEC Marconi. Thomson-CSF could also envisage a complementary alliance leading us eventually to become the `electronic core' of the future EADC (European Aerospace and Defense Company).''

Ranque said the government's stake in Thomson-CSF would not be an obstacle to joining a future alliance.

``The French government will accept to reduce its stake if it's a condition to industrial success. I am confident with the government's flexibility in that regard,'' Ranque said.

The government already has relinquished command over Thomson, giving up its controlling share on June 22 to a consortium led by Alcatel.