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NEW DELHI, September 23. /TASS/. India’s Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean Yves LeDrian signed a contract in New Delhi to supply the Indian Air Force with 36 high-tech Rafale fighters, produced by Dassault Aviation, NDTV reported on Friday.
Under the contract, the Indians will put a down payment of 15% of the contract price of €7.87 billion ($8.77 billion). Along with the fighters, New Delhi will receive spare parts and weaponry, including the Meteor missile. The first Rafale fighters are to be supplied within 18 months after finalizing the contract.
"France will invest 30 per cent of the €7.87 billion into India's military aeronautics-related R&D programs and 20% into local production of Rafale’s components," NDTV reported. In January 2012, Rafale won the international tender to supply the fighters, but up until now, India and France have not been able to agree on the price for the 36 fighters.
The fourth generation Rafale multi-purpose fighter took its maiden flight in 1986. France’s Air Force first began receiving the aircraft in 2002. The French government has ordered 180 aircraft for its military.
The airplane carried out its first missions starting in 2007 during the international coalition’s operation in Afghanistan. The French fighters were used in Libya and Mali, and now they are being used in airstrikes to take out the positions of the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia).
Previously, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates had refused to buy the fighters, so France considered possibly curbing production of the aircraft. France clinched the first contract - and so far the only one - with Egypt in February 2015. Under that contract, Egypt’s Air Force will receive 24 planes.