Europe

India sign deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets

  • FILE - In this Jan.12, 2016 file photo, a Rafale jet fighter is catapulted on France's flagship Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. India has signed Friday Sept.23, 2016 a $8.78 billion deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in ''ready to fly'' condition meaning the planes would be made in France. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

    FILE - In this Jan.12, 2016 file photo, a Rafale jet fighter is catapulted on France's flagship Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. India has signed Friday Sept.23, 2016 a $8.78 billion deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in ''ready to fly'' condition meaning the planes would be made in France. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this June 19, 2015 file photo, a Rafale jet fighter performs its demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, north of Paris. India has signed Friday Sept.23, 2016 a $8.78 billion deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in ''ready to fly'' condition meaning the planes would be made in France. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File)

    FILE - In this June 19, 2015 file photo, a Rafale jet fighter performs its demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, north of Paris. India has signed Friday Sept.23, 2016 a $8.78 billion deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in ''ready to fly'' condition meaning the planes would be made in France. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • French Defense Minister Jean Yves le Drian, left, and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar shake hands after signing the deal to purchase 36 French Rafale fighter jets in New Delhi, India, on September 23, 2016. India signed a formal agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France's Dassault for a reported 8.78 billion dollars, one of its biggest defense deals in decades. (Roberto Schmidt/Pool Photo via AP)

    French Defense Minister Jean Yves le Drian, left, and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar shake hands after signing the deal to purchase 36 French Rafale fighter jets in New Delhi, India, on September 23, 2016. India signed a formal agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France's Dassault for a reported 8.78 billion dollars, one of its biggest defense deals in decades. (Roberto Schmidt/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

India has signed an $8.78 billion deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in "ready to fly" condition, meaning the planes would be made in France.

The agreement was signed Friday by India's Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar and his visiting French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian to replace older planes in the Indian air force.

The first of the aircraft will be delivered in three years and the last in 5½ years.

India has become the world's biggest arms importer, with an economic boom enabling it to modernize its military. Major arms manufacturers are wooing the country as it replaces its obsolete Soviet-era weapons and buys new equipment.