France has ordered 42 new Rafale fighter jets, Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said Friday, with the first to be delivered in 2027. Bringing the total number of Rafales bought by Paris to 234, the five-billion-euro ($5.5 billion) order for the latest version of the Dassault planes would offer “modernised operational capabilities” to the French air force, Lecornu said. The Rafale is a “multi-role” fighter that can be used to hunt enemy planes, strike ground and sea targets, carry out reconnaissance and even carry France’s nuclear warheads. Friday’s announcement is the first major purchase under France’s 413-billion-euro military procurement plan for 2024-30. An increase of 40 percent over the previous seven-year period, it was passed by parliament last July. “I want France to continue to have armed forces that set the standard for Europe,” President Emmanuel Macron said at the time. Lecornu said the order would support “more than 7,000 jobs in more than 400 companies” in France. Dassault chief executive Eric Trappier said in a statement the Rafale was an example of “military-industrial sovereignty” that made France an “exception in Europe”. The order comes as France is setting up a programme with Germany and Spain to develop a future jet fighter, the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), supposed to replace the Rafale from 2040.