India has formally signed a deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets, officials said.
The deal was signed Friday in New Delhi by India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“India and France signed the deal for 36 Rafale jets,” Parrikar wrote on twitter after finalizing the deal. “Rafale will significantly improve India’s strike and defence capabilities.”
Drian arrived in New Delhi on Thursday accompanied by CEOs of Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA to seal the multi-billion dollar deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets.
The aircraft will be equipped with latest missiles and weapon system.
Defense officials believe the purchase of Rafale jets would bolster country’s military image in the region and help modernize Indian military’s ageing fleet of combat aircrafts.
Indian government signed a memorandum of understanding in January this year with government of France for purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft.
The procurement of Rafale jets was first initiated in 2012. Indian government then intended to buy 126 fighter jets, however the purchase faced delays and hurdles during the past four years over the cost and assembly of the planes in India.
Finally the procurement was scaled down to 36 aircrafts.
India depends on imports from countries such as Russia, US, France and Israel to upgrade its military arsenal. In the recent years it has become the world’s largest importer of weapons. However, procurement of weapons and placing orders usually takes a long time.
India’s official broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) said one of the features that make Rafale a strategic weapon is its Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km.
The delivery of this aircraft will start in 36 months and will be completed in 66 months from the date of signing the contract, officials said.