LE BOURGET, France, June 19 (Itar-Tass) - The first Mistral helicopter carrier for Russia’s Navy will be fully built in France, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Paris Air Show currently underway at Le Bourget, Borisov told journalists, “The after end of the first Mistral helicopter carrier will be built in France and not in Russia as it was scheduled earlier.”
“This is conditioned by the sluggishness of Russian shipwrights who should have to manufacture the after end of the first Mistral helicopter carrier. They run out of time,” the deputy minister said.
At the same time, he did not rule out that the after end for the second Mistral helicopter carrier would be built in Russia. “Maybe, the second Mistral will be manufactured in Russia,” he added.
Borisov recalled that Russia and France signed the contract on the two Mistral. In addition, he said, “The Defence Ministry will meet the first Mistral helicopter carrier and move it to the Russian shipyard for re-equipment in the middle of October. This will be done in advance in schedule.”
“Now we’re laying the second Mistral helicopter carrier,” Borisov said, adding that the first Mistral would be transferred to Russia in order to install Russian hardware, the control system, communications and other equipment. “This will be done by the Russian corporation,” the deputy minister said.
“The state programme envisions funding for the two Mistral. But today it would be unreasonable to sign contracts on the next helicopter carriers without ‘feeling it practice’,” Borisov said.
The Russian deputy minister said he asked the chief of naval material of the French army how many helicopter carriers France had in service. “It [France] has the three Mistral. And will we buy the four by ‘shutting the eyes’? Do we need this? We shall wait. As sound stewards we pulp, look at and test the ship. Let see it being adapted to the Russian conditions,” Borisov stressed.
Till now what is related to helicopter carriers, the theory prevails. Now it is necessary to see how Russian-made helicopters will operate, how the control system functions and if armament is enough to ensure safety of the Mistral itself, Borisov said. “There are many questions: the tactic and the strategy for using the helicopter. Let’s see and then we’ll decide. We have all documents. This is the condition of the contract,” he said.
According to Borisov, the contract gives the opportunity to make the Mistral both in Russia and France or jointly. “We’ll build the helicopters by ourselves or with France’s participation. Or, sorry, we’ll give up and say the two vessels will be enough for us. The choice is in our favour,” the deputy minister said.
He named as speculations reports saying the Mistral helicopter carrier was unable to operate in cold waters. “All specifications correspond to the requirements,” Borisov said.
Earlier reports said sections for the after end of the first Mistral helicopter carrier had been built at the Baltic Shipyard (St Petersburg). The launch is set for the end of June.