French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Friday that France was ready to provide additional Rafale fighter jets to India if it wanted, adding that the use of the same aircraft by the two strategic partners was a reflection of "strength" in their ties.

Parly, on a day long visit to India, also added that France was fully committed to supporting the “Make in India" initiative and also of integrating Indian manufacturers into its global supply chains.

The French defence minister made the comments at session organised by Ananta Centre, a New Delhi based think tank, ahead of her official meetings with Indian leaders.

"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 a real achievement," she said in response to a question.

"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 looking at a follow on order of another batch of Rafale aircraft from India, according to two people familiar with the matter. The jets are India's first major acquisition of fighter aircraft after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia in 1997.

The Rafale jets are capable of carrying a range of weapons -- from the European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile to the Scalp cruise missile.

In a statement, the French embassy on Thursday said a total of 33 Rafale jets have already been delivered to India as per schedule despite the pandemic.

India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around ₹59,000 crore. The first batch of five Rafale jets, manufactured by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, arrived in India in July last year.

In her comments, Parly also referred to India's planned induction of a second aircraft carrier and indicated French interest in supplying fighter aircraft for the carrier. India's first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant, has undergone some sea trials and is scheduled to be inducted into the Indian Navy by August 2022.

"We know that the aircraft carrier will soon be (there)...that aircraft are needed. We are open and ready to provide any other Rafale if this is India's decision," she said.

In response to another question, Parly said that France and India were "viscerally committed" to national sovereignty and independence.

"I think that our industrial partnership is proof of that. France, more than any other country, understands the necessity of the Indian content. And we are fully committed to the 'Make in India' initiative, as well as to the further integration of Indian manufacturers into our global supply chains," she said.

Later, the French defence minister met her Indian host Rajnath Singh for talks that focused on strengthening bilateral defence and security cooperation.

Parly also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.