India Orders 36 Rafale Fighter Jets
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi toasts with French president Francois Hollande during an official dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on 10 April.Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered 36 "ready-to-fly" French-made Rafale combat jets to modernise his nation's ageing warplane fleet.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will travel to India soon to finalise the deal.

The deal could be worth some €4bn (£2.9bn, $4.2bn) and was separate from initial negotiations. It came about after Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar indicated the country's urgent requirements, a French defence ministry source told Reuters.

The deal is another boost for French manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

Dassault is in the "final stage" of negotiations to sell up to 36 Rafale warplanes to Qatar. It is also in talks aimed at supplying 16 of the multi-role fighter jets to Malaysia and has resumed discussions over potential fighter sales to the UAE, Reuters reported.

Modi, speaking at a news conference on the first day of a state visit to France on 10 April, said: "I have asked President [Francois Hollande] to supply 36 ready-to-fly Rafale jets to India.

"Our civil servants will discuss [terms and conditions] in more detail and continue the negotiations."

Meanwhile, Dassault Chief Executive Eric Trappier told Europe 1 radio: "There was a real operational need because India needs combat jets because a certain number of countries have been equipping themselves, so there was a desire to speed up the process."

Negotiations, meanwhile, continue on finalising the original 126-jet agreement.

Paris has been in exclusive negotiations with New Delhi for over three years to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to the Indian Air Force.

The value of that contract is estimated to have grown to about $20bn from an initial $12bn, primarily because of an Indian requirement that 108 aircraft be built on the subcontinent, at Bangalore's Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL).

Dassault sold 24 Rafale jets to Egypt in February.

India has old ties with Dassault, having bought Mirage 2000 fighter jets.