The construction of the stern for the first Mistral helicopter carrier being built for the Russian Navy will be finished in France because a Russian shipyard cannot meet the deadline specified in the contract, a senior Russian defense official said Tuesday.
“We will have the whole stern made there [in France], we won’t take risks so as not to delay the contract,” Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov told reporters on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget.
Borisov said the decision had been made as it became evident that the Severnaya Verf shipyard in St. Petersburg, subcontacted to build the stern for the ship, was not going to meet the deadline.
Russia and France signed a contract for two French-built Mistral-class helicopter carriers in June 2011. The first, the Vladivostok, is being built at the DCNS shipyard in Saint-Nazaire and is due to be delivered in 2014, while the second, the Sevastopol, is scheduled for delivery in 2015.
Borisov said the Vladivostok may be moved as early as in October from France to Russia where Russian armaments, communications systems and other equipment would be installed.
He also said the Sevastopol helicopter carrier was laid down at an official ceremony in Saint-Nazaire on Tuesday.
Russia has put back plans to build two additional Mistral-class ships under French license to 2016, citing the need to assess the ships’ performance, role and status as part of the Russian Navy.
The Mistral deal came under fire from senior Russian officials in January, following the dismissal of former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, had who actively lobbied for their purchase.