29 Agustus 2009

Russia Plans To Buy French Helo-Carrying Warship

29 Agustus 2009

Mistral class is a 21.300 ton LHD (photo : Wiki)

MOSCOW - Russia wants to buy a French helicopter-carring warship, a top general said Aug. 26. Such a purchase would deviate from the Soviet-era principle of producing every piece of military equipment - from pistol cartridges to ballistic missiles - domestically.

A Russian general says Moscow wants to buy a helicopter carrier like the French Mistral. (YANNICK LE BRIS) Col. Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the General Staff, told reporters in Ulan Bator, where he was traveling with President Dmitry Medvedev, that "not a single country can produce everything at the high-quality level."

"Anyway, we will have to buy something [abroad]," Makarov said, Interfax news agency reported.

Mistral class cutaway (photo : Defense Industry Daily)

He said that the military would negotiate with the French Defense Ministry and a French shipbuilding company he didn't name, to buy a Mistral-class helicopter carrier that could carry 16 helicopters, 40 tanks or 900 troops. Russian shipyards would then produce three or four additional carriers with France's aid, Makarov said.

"Before the year's end, we plan to obtain contract agreements with a French company allowing the construction and purchase of this ship," Makarov told reporters. "There are no ships of this class in Russia."

France's Navy has two of the 21,300-ton carriers in service, and one more is under construction at the Chantiers de Saint-Nazaire dockyards.

Speculation that the military was interested in buying the helicopter carrier, which costs about $1 billion, according to expert estimates, first surfaced in the local Vedomosti and Kommersant newspapers last month, but Russian officials denied the reports.

Russia is negotiating the purchase of one ship at present, and later planning to acquire 3-4 ships to be jointly built in Russia (photo : Defense Industry Daily)

Several Russian defense analysts have questioned the expediency of such a costly purchase in the name of national security. Any military conflicts likely to involve Russia would be with its neighbors, like the war last August with Georgia, which would require land troops and equipment rather than a sea vessel, they say.

Manned by 160-strong crew, a Mistral carrier can also carry four assault landing boats, and is armed with two Simbad missile air defense units, two 30mm Breda-Mauser guns and four 12.7mm machine guns.

Russia has already departed recently from its policy of being over-protective of domestic arms producers by buying 12 spy drones from Israel earlier this year for $53 million.

(Defense News)

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