Australia, India deals boost French arms sales to record 20 billion euros in 2016

PARIS (Reuters) - French weapons sales hit a record high of more than 20 billion euros ($21.33 billion) in 2016 after submarine contracts in Australia and fighter jet sales to India, France’s defense minister said.

“In 2015, we hit our historical exports figure of 17 billion euros,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a New Year’s speech to defense officials late on Thursday.

“For 2016, the total is not yet tallied, but I can say that thanks to the Australia contract, we have reached a new summit with more than 20 billion euros in sales.”

Australia and France formally sealed an agreement on December under which French naval contractor DCNS will build a new fleet of 12 submarines, a deal that could ultimately be worth $38 billion.

Paris also completed a deal for the sale of 36 high-end Rafale fighter planes from Dassault worth about $9 billion.

Reporting by John Irish, Editing by Leigh Thomas