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MOSCOW, December 21 (Itar-Tass) — The United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) has not received any official notification about cancelling the plans for the construction of the second pair of the Mistral class helicopter carrier amphibious assault ships in Russia, USC spokesman Alexei Kravchenko told Itar-Tass on Friday.
“We know nothing about such a decision allegedly taken by the RF Ministry of Defence. The USC has not received an official notification about the decision not to conclude the contract on the construction of a second pair of the Mistral ships,” he said.
Another informed source in the USC told Itar-Tass that the corporation received the most recent document on the Mistral ships a few months ago when Anatoly Serdyukov was still RF Defence Minister. “Then, the USC received a request to prepare a calculation to build a second pair of the Mistral ships in Russia,” said the source.
He explained that such calculations were needed, because the decision to build a second pair of the ships by the end of 2011 was not made and the corresponding sub-contract was not signed at that time. “Meanwhile, the first contract on the construction of the first two Mistral ships in France in the amount of 1.2 billion euros, which was signed in June 2011, specified that if the decision on the second pair of ships is made before the end of the same (2011) year, then the costs of the contracts remains the same (1.2 billion euros), and if it is made after this period - the price shall be agreed upon anew,” the source told Itar-Tass.
Some media reported earlier that the RF Defence Ministry allegedly refused from building the 3rd and 4th ships of the Mistral class at Russian shipyards.
Russia and France signed the agreement to build four dock assault helicopter ships of the Mistral class in June 2011. Under the contract terms, the first two ships are being built and will be launched in Saint-Nazaire, part of the shipbuilding works is carried out by Russian specialists, in particular, at the Baltic Shipyard (that is part of the USC).
The ceremony of laying down the first ship of the series was held in the French city of Saint-Nazaire in February this year. The ship is to be delivered to the Russian Navy in 2014. The second Mistral ship is expected to become operational within the Russian Navy at the end of 2015. The first ship will be named Vladivostok, the second - Sevastopol. Both helicopter carriers are to be delivered to the Russian Pacific Fleet, where in 2013 it is planned to begin the work on the creation of the new mooring infrastructure for the dock assault helicopter ships.
The third and fourth dock assault helicopter ships Russia should build on its own, on which it was planned to sign an additional agreement. In September, then Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, commenting on the progress of negotiations of the USC with representatives of the French shipbuilding industry on the 3rd and 4th Mistral class ships, said: “We are currently in no hurry, so we are waiting for proposals from the USC. They are now actively negotiating with the French side, including on the technological equipment of our factories. So far at the budget committee meeting we have not considered either the price parameters or the timeframe.”
The Mistral is a class of three amphibious assault ships, also known as a helicopter carrier, of the French Navy. Referred to as “projection and command ships” a Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 NH90 or Tiger helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 Leclerc tanks, or a 40-strong Leclerc tank battalion, and 450 soldiers. The ships are equipped with a 69-bed hospital, and are capable of serving as part of a NATO Response Force, or with United Nations or European Union peacekeeping forces. Three ships of the class are in service in the French Navy: Mistral, Tonnerre and Dixmude and a fourth ship may also be built. A deal for 2 ships for the Russian Navy was announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on 24 December 2010, and signed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and French Defence Minister Alain Jupp· in the presence of Sarkozy on 25 January 2011.
In October, Serdyukov said that the construction of the 3rd and 4th dock assault helicopter ships of the Mistral class was envisaged by the State Armaments Program for the period up to 2020, specifying that “in 2013, it will be possible to use these funds.”
He noted that this issue has not yet been discussed with the USC. “A series of consultations will be held with the USC at which the cooperation membership will be determined: the head company will be chosen. The timeframe will also be determined,” Serdyukov informed then. However, he specified that the negotiations with France on this issue have not been launched.
One Mistral class ship has the maximum displacement of 21 tonnes. The ship is capable of transporting up to 16 heavy helicopters, as well as carrying up to 900 troops and 70 armoured vehicles.