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Media: Russian Navy Quantified Helicopters for Mistrals

Media: Russian Navy Quantified Helicopters for Mistrals 19.09.2012
Text: Vzglyad
Photo: Ka-52. Western Military District Press Service
Air wings consisting of 30 helicopters Ka-52K and Ka-29 will be formed for each of the two French-built Mistral-class amphibious assault ships; Russian Navy command submitted such proposal to defense ministry, an insider told Izvestiya.

"The proposal on helicopters for Mistral landing ships is ready. It will be 30 helicopters for each ship, almost equally Ka-29 and Ka-52K (both designed by the Kamov bureau). That will be ship-based and land-based air wings. Such reserve will make possible to change helicopters rapidly for repairs or replacement", said the defense ministry's officer.

As for him, ship-based air wings will be formed depending on a mission.

"Each Mistral-class ship may carry 16 helicopters, but their number will vary depending on assigned tasks", pointed out the interviewee.

Construction of experimental shipborne variant of Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter has been already started at the Progress plant in Primorsky Krai. The first chopper is supposed to start trials in 2014. Naval Ka-52 will have folded wings and rotor blades, ballonets for emergency splashdown, and antiship missiles.

"Adaptation of 10 transport/combat helicopters Ka-29 for Mistral ships started this year, too", said a representative of Russian defense industry. Naval Ka-29 had been produced in series since 1979 at the Kumertau Aircraft Productions. In total, about 60 helicopters were made; some of them remained in Ukraine after the USSR breakup. After 1991, only single helicopters were produced.

"Now the question is not navy-adaptation of Ka-29, it is shipborne helicopter and doesn't need such modification as land-based Ka-52. The only thing must be done is to upgrade arms and radioelectronics. Production of those excellent helicopters should be resumed", emphasized the interviewee, writes Izvestiya.

Naval arms expert Vladimir Scherbakov considers shaping of air wings for Mistrals with such big reserve logical but not sufficient.

"The main problem is that the purpose of these ships is still unclear. Usefulness of Mistral-class ship could be obvious if it would be a core of amphibious group acting only as a strike helicopter- and troop-carrier. Such group must also include 3-4 large-size landing ships like Ivan Gren to carry armored vehicles, and escort ships [frigates and corvettes]", he concluded.

According to Vzglyad, Moscow and Paris signed the contract for two Mistral-class ships in June 2011. The contract value is EUR 1.2 bln.

The first ship for Russia was laid down early in Feb 2012 and is planned to join Russian Navy in 2014. The second Mistral-class ship is to be commissioned in 2015.

First two ships will be named Vladivostok and Sevastopol. Besides, all Mistral-class ships within Russian Navy will be armed with latest Russian-made offensive and defensive arms including supersonic cruise missiles.

It was reported early in Aug that Russia had started production of trial helicopters Ka-52 to be based on Mistral ships.

Russian Navy will start enlisting officers and sailors to the Mistral crews on a competitive basis in 2013.

As was said in a US Congress report published in May, the Unites States and its Baltic allies were concerned over Mistral ships to be sold to Russia.

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