MOSCOW: Russia has opted for France’s Mistral-class helicopter carriers for its Navy after announcing that the winner of the Russian Defense Ministry’s tender for amphibious assault ships was a consortium comprised of French DCNS and Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC).
At the initial stage, two Mistral-class helicopter carriers will be built jointly by France and Russia at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Another two will be constructed later at the Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg.
The first Mistral-class ship is expected to be built within 36 months after Russia makes an advance payment scheduled for January 2011.
Russia had previously held talks with France on the purchase of Mistral-class warships on a 2+2 scheme whereby Russia would buy one or two French-built Mistrals and build another two under license at home.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel.
The Russian military has said it plans to use Mistral ships in its Northern and Pacific fleets.
Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase, and some believe that Russia simply wants to gain access to advanced naval technology that could be used in the future in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.