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MOSCOW, July 03. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian shipyards are capable of maintaining and serving two Mistral-class helicopter carriers, which Russia expected to receive from France under a bilateral contract signed three years ago, a high-ranking Russian military official said on Thursday.
“I believe that shipbuilding and engineering enterprises will manage to organize an integrated service and maintenance work for these ships,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Bryusov said at a news conference.
The €1.12 billion contract for building two Mistral-type ships was signed by the Russian defense exporting company Rosoboronexport and French DCNS in June of 2011. Under the contract, Russia is to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in October-November this year. The second Mistral-class helicopter carrier, the Sevastopol, is expected to be handed over to Russia by the end of the next year.
Bryusov said that the contract for the construction of the ships stipulates guarantee obligations to deliver and maintain the warships as well as to hand over to the Russian side all the necessary documentation.
“Moreover, 30% of the future Mistrals are a product of Russian enterprises,” the military official said.
However, Russia could still depend on France in terms of Mistral’s exploitation, particularly on fuel supplies. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said last year that there were no enterprises in Russia producing a special sort of fuel for Mistral-type helicopter carriers and Russian specialists in chemistry would have to work on the problem’s solution.
Four days ago Russia’s training ship, the Smolny, docked at the port of Saint-Nazaire, northwest France, bringing 400 sailors for the training on the Mistral-class helicopter carrier.
The group of 400 sailors was divided into two separate crews of 200 to learn how to operate Russia’s first Mistral, the Vladivostok, which is currently under construction in Saint-Nazaire.
The delivery of the Mistral-class warships to Russia was jeopardized earlier in the year after the European Union along with the United States imposed a number of sanctions on Russia. The sanctions were imposed after the republic of Crimea seceded from conflict-hit Ukraine and later merged with neighboring Russia.
However, French President Francois Hollande said earlier this month that France would fulfil its contract obligations and saw no obstacles for delivering the warships on time.
The Mistral-type helicopter carriers have a displacement of 21 tons, maximum body length - 210 meters, speed - 18 knots, range - up to 20,000 miles. The crew is 170 members, and in addition it can take on board 450 people. Each ship is capable of carrying a fleet of 16 helicopters. Six of them can be simultaneously deployed on the flight-deck. The cargo deck can accommodate more than 40 tanks or 70 motorized vehicles.
Mistral landing helicopter carriers are capable of performing four tasks at the same time: receive helicopters, land troops, and act as a command post and a floating hospital.