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France to build only one Mistral for Russia

France to build only one Mistral for Russia 03.03.2010
Out of four helicopter carriers Mistral only one will be made in France; the rest of ships will be constructed in Russia; second vessel will be built under auspices of French experts, reports Wednesday Interfax referring to military diplomatic source in Moscow.

According to the source, procurement contract of French helicopter carrier Mistral is expected to be ready by the end of 2010; talks are successfully going on. The carriers will be commissioned into all four Russia's fleets.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy previously declared that first and probably second ships would be built at Saint-Nazaire shipyard. Mistral will be delivered to Russia without military equipment, Sarkozy said.

On March 1 the two countries started exclusive negotiations on the ship sale. France consented to sell Mistral to Russia early Dec.

Russia will be capable to create Mistral-class ship only in 5-10 years; our country has climbed down in military technologies during last 15-20 years so Mistral carriers triply outclass our warships at all parameters they consume 3 times less fuel than Russian ones and have 4 times bigger displacement, said General of the Army Nikolai Makarov, Chief of General Staff in Feb. Those carriers are multifunctional and can be used as helicopter carriers, landing craft, command and control ships, hospitals and transport platforms, Makarov said.

Late 2009 the top-ranking official from Russian Navy Main HQ reported to RIA Novosti that Russia was planning to purchase French helicopter carrier Mistral and construction technologies to build about four ships of that class at domestic shipyards.

At present, French Navy has two Mistral-class landing crafts Mistral and Tonnerre. One more ship is under construction now. Ships of this class are built at shipyards in Brest (Brest Arsenal) and Saint-Nazaire. Displacement of a Mistral-class ship is 16,500 tons; total displacement is 21,300 tons, load displacement is 32,300 tons; length is 199 meters; beam is 32 meters; draft is 6.3 meters; speed is 18.8 knots; operating range is 10,800 km at 18 knots and 19,800 km at 15 knots; crew is 160. Capacity is 2 air-cushion landing ships; 4 transport barges; 59 vehicles or 40 Leclerc tanks; 16 heavy or 35 light helicopters; 900 marines for short period and 450 while long-term cruises. Armament: 2 Simbad air defense systems, 2 x 30-mm Breda-Mauser gun mounts, 4 x 12.7-mm M2-HB Browning machineguns. Except Russia, such countries have shown interest to buy Mistral-class ships as Republic of South Africa, Germany, Canada, Malaysia, and Sweden. Reportedly, cost of one Mistral-class ship makes 400-500 mln euro.

Source: RusNavy.com, photo: Mistral (newwars.files.wordpress.com)

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