PARIS — Dassault Aviation has finally received a long-awaited down payment from Qatar for an order for 24 Rafale fighter aircraft, backing up a contract signed in May, a defense executive said today.

"It was paid today," said the executive when asked about the delayed deposit. France now can book the deal in this year's export orders. The executive declined to be identified as permission had not be granted to speak on the subject.

Dassault didhad not responded to a request for confirmation.

Dassault Chairman Eric Trappier said in October that the payment was in the process of being made.

The French fighter deal with Qatar includes MBDA missiles, training for 36 pilots and some 100 mechanics, worth a total €6.3 billion ($6.9 billion).

The down payment means the contract is now in effect, and French arms exports this year will total more than €15 billion including the Qatari deal, compared to €8.2 billion last year. The latter figure was the highest in five years and the second-highest in 10 years.

The sale to Qatar boosts sales for prime contractor Dassault, radar and systems specialist Thales, and engine builder Safran. MBDA will supply the missiles.

A sharp drop in energy prices and the ensuing need to raise a loan through US banks led to the delay in the Qatari down payment, business daily Les Echos reported.

Qatar follows Egypt as export client for the Rafale, after Cairo signed in February an arms deal worth €5.2 billion which included 24 fighter jets.

Talks are continuing with the United Arab Emirates for the twin-engined fighter. India is negotiating an order for 36 Rafales off the shelf in a government-to-government deal.