PARIS — Qatar’s decision to buy 12 more Rafale fighter jets as part of an existing contractual option with Dassault Aviation has officially come under effect, the company said.

This phase in the acquisition process indicates the Gulf state has paid its down payment, allowing Dassault to record the deal in its 2018 order book.

“The exercise of the option for the purchase of 12 additional Rafale fighters for Qatar comes into effect today,” Dassault said in statement March 27.

Qatar said Dec. 7 it took up the option, which was in a May 4, 2015, contract with Dassault for an initial order for 24 Rafale jets. This order will bring Qatar’s total of Rafales to 36. The 2015 deal was worth €6.3 billion (U.S. $7.8 billion) and included missiles, training pilots and some 100 mechanics.

Eric Trappier, front left, head of Dassault Aviation, shakes hands with Qatari Gen. Ahmad Al-Malki after signing an agreement for Rafale fighters at the Diwan Palace in Doha on May 4, 2015. (Christophe Ena/AFP via Getty Images)
Eric Trappier, front left, head of Dassault Aviation, shakes hands with Qatari Gen. Ahmad Al-Malki after signing an agreement for Rafale fighters at the Diwan Palace in Doha on May 4, 2015. (Christophe Ena/AFP via Getty Images)

Qatar has ordered 24 Eurofighter Typhoons and six Hawk trainers, and is also acquiring the Boeing F-15QA fighter. The Qatar Air Force flies the Mirage 2000-5.

Meanwhile, Egypt was poised also to exercise an option for 12 more Rafales, but that order has been held up by problems over delivery of the Scalp cruise missile due to lack of U.S. clearance for supply of a key component. The Egyptian Air Force would fly 36 Rafales if that option were exercised.

Dassault is gradually increasing output to two Rafales per month, above the long-standing rate of effectively one per month, except for August when the assembly line is shut down for a traditional one-month summer holiday.

The higher production rate is the response to sales to Egypt, India and Qatar.