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Visiting French defence minister Florence Parly on Friday said France was willing to provide more Rafale fighter jets to India, and the use of the same aircraft by the two strategic partners was a reflection of the “strength" in their ties. France is committed to supporting the Make in India initiative and integrating Indian manufacturers into its global supply chains, she added.

“I am very happy that the Indian Air Force is satisfied with its Rafale and we are very proud that despite covid-19, the 36 aircraft will be delivered on time according to the contract, it is an achievement," Parly said at an event organized by New Delhi- based think tank Ananta Centre, ahead of her official meetings with Indian leaders.

“Using the same aircraft is a real asset and strength. I am sure that there is room for new developments. We are ready to answer any additional needs of request that could be made by India," she said.

France is expecting a follow- on order for Rafale from India, said two people in the know. The jets are India’s first major acquisition of fighter aircraft after Sukhois were imported from Russia in 1997, they said seeking anonymity.

The Rafale is capable of carrying a range of weapons, such as the Meteor, built by European missile maker MBDA, to the Scalp cruise missile.

The French embassy said on Thursday that 33 Rafale jets have been delivered to India, which had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procuring 36 jets at a cost of 59,000 crore. The first batch of five Rafales, manufactured by aerospace major Dassault Aviation, arrived in India in July 2020. Parly is on a day-long visit to New Delhi to hold talks with defence minister Rajnath Singh as part of the ministerial-level defence dialogue, held since 2018.

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