MOSCOW, September 22. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia can do without French-built Mistral-class helicopter carriers whose delivery has been suspended over Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said in Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov TV programme.
“Last year, on November 16 we transferred to our Indian colleagues the Vikramaditya light aircraft carrier, which war formerly our Admiral Gorshkov missile cruiser. Thus, having implemented that contract and earning big money, we proved inside Russia and showed to the country’s leadership that Russia can now assemble ships of that kind,” Rogozin said.
A state-of-the-art aircraft carrier is the peak of shipbuilding, he said. “As for a landing ship - it has a much simpler design. Of course we can do this,” the deputy prime minister said.
He said Mistral-class helicopter carriers were designed for the Mediterranean climate. “They are not exactly suitable for us as for climatic requirements, at least they surely won’t be able to sail in our northern seas,” he said.
He also said that statements from France that a contract could be cancelled with the ships turned over to somebody else, were unlawful as one third of that ship was Russian-made. “The stern section of Mistral was made at Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg. That is why if they want to keep the ship, we will have to tear away its stern section and get it back to use it in other ships,” Rogozin said.
For the same reason, it is impossible to transfer this half-of-the-ship to anybody else,” he added. “Secondly, the money has been paid and it must be returned with penalties. Thirdly, it is not even money that France is risking, but its status of a reliable supplier in the World Trade Organisation,” Rogozin said.
Russia and France signed the 1.2 billion euro ($1.6 billion) contract for two French-built Mistral-class helicopter carriers in June 2011. The first ship, named Vladivostok, was floated out in October 2013. In September 2014, the ship has gone on sea trials with a Russian crew onboard.
French President Francois Hollande suspended the delivery of the two helicopter carriers to Russia in early September because of the events in eastern Ukraine and said that the final delivery on the Mistral contract will be made in late October.
Two Mistral-type ships are now under construction at Saint-Nazaire, France, and St. Petersburg, Russia. A possible purchase by Russia of two more ships from France will be considered based on the performance results of the first two. The shipyard is to build 90% of each of the ships and then they will be floated off to be taken to Toulon for completion.
Mistral landing helicopter carriers will perform four tasks at the same time: receive helicopters, land troops, act as a command post and a floating hospital.
Each ship will carry a group of 16 helicopters. Six of them can be deployed on the flight-deck at the same time. The cargo deck can accommodate more than 40 tanks or 70 motor vehicles.
Russia is buying the French helicopter carrier Mistral with French equipment, including combat navigation devices, but will arm it with its own weaponry. The Mistral ships will carry upgraded Russian Ka-32 Alligator attack helicopters.