Mistral warship talks stumble over sensitive technology

By on Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Talks between Russia and France on the purchase of Mistral class helicopter carriers have come to a dead end over Russia’s demands on the transfer and licensed production of sensitive electronics, a Russian defense industry source said on Friday.

Mistral class ships are equipped with a NATO-standard SENIT-9 naval tactical data system and SIC-21 fleet command system. France is strongly opposed to delivering the SENIT-9 to Russia with a production license, and apparently does not want to deliver the SIC-21 at all.

“The Russian side wants to get all advanced technologies together with the ship…and the future of the contract totally depends on whether France would agree to part with these systems,” the source said.

The official confirmed that talks were tough-going and their format was constantly changing.

Russia completely replaced its team of negotiators on May 5 hoping to change the course of the talks by literally starting from scratch.

Experts believe that the controversial issues of such a highly-publicized and politically-charged deal could be resolved only through a compromise between the Russian and French leaders.

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

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

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