France, Russia to sign warship deal before Putin’s visit

By on Friday, May 27th, 2011

France and Russia should sign a contract on four Mistral class helicopter carriers for Russia before June 21, when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is to visit France, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday.

“We have agreed everything with President Medvedev – the price, the timeframe, the transfer of technology, and the construction site,” Sarkozy said.

“Contract negotiations are over; it only remains to decide when this contract will be signed: The deadline is June 21 because this is when Prime Minister Putin will come to Paris.”

Medvedev and Sarkozy agreed earlier on Thursday that a contract will be signed within 15 days.

“We have reached a final agreement that this contract will be signed in 15 days. Two helicopter carriers will be built in France and two more in Russia,” Sarkozy said after talks with Medvedev.

Russia and France in January signed an intergovernmental agreement to build two Mistral-class helicopter carriers at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Another two are planned to be constructed later at Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg.

However, contract talks stumbled over Russia’s demand for the transfer of sensitive electronic systems.

Mistral ships are equipped with a NATO-standard SENIT-9 naval tactical data system and SIC-21 fleet command system.

It is not clear yet whether France has agreed to include the technology in the deal.

A Mistral-class ship is capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, 70 armored vehicles, and 450 personnel.

France has two Mistral class amphibious assault ships in service and is building a third one.

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