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France still cannot deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia — Hollande

December 19, 2014, 8:12 UTC+3
The French side would implement its contract for the delivery of the Mistral-class vessels to Russia after the Minsk pprotocol is fulfilled
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© AP Photo/Laetitia Notarianni

BRUSSELS, December 19. /TASS/. There is no reason at present to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, French President Francois Hollande said on Friday.

“I have said many times that at the present time, there has not been sufficient progress to carry out the delivery,” Hollande told journalists after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

“I wish the Minsk process be completed and the Minsk protocol fulfilled,” he said, stressing that only then the French side would implement its contract for the delivery of the Mistral-class vessels to Russia.

Over 400 Russian marines trained for operating the helicopter carriers yesterday left the French port of St. Nazaire and headed for Kronstadt in the Gulf of Finland aboard the Smolny training ship.

Russia to build own helicopter carriers

Designing and manufacturing of own universal amphibious assault helicopter carriers is part of Russia's long-term program of naval shipbuilding through to 2050, a high-rank source in the Russian defense sector told TASS earlier.

“The Navy has put construction of Russia’s own amphibious assault ships on a long-term program of shipbuilding for up to 2050 and these plans have been endorsed by the Defense Ministry,” he said. “The document envisions (the emergence of) these ships, many such ships actually.”

The Russian Navy needs universal amphibious assault ships similar to the French Mistrals, or the ships that would be somewhat smaller in size and tonnage. Such ships will be able to solve many more combat tasks than the bid amphibious assault ships of the Ivan Gren type, under construction now.

When TASS asked the source where the Russian helicopter carriers would be designed, he mentioned the Nevsky and Northern Design Bureaus, “as both of them have done important enough exploratory works on universal amphibious ships.”

Mistral-type helicopter carriers

The Mistral-type helicopter carriers have a displacement of 21 thousand tons, the maximum body length of 210 meters, the speed of 18 knots and the range of up to 11,000 miles.

The crew is 160 members, and in addition it can take on board 450 marines. Each ship is capable of carrying a fleet of 16 heavy and 32 light 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.

Infographics Mistral helicopter carrier Mistral helicopter carrier
Russia will purchase Mistral-class helicopter carriers from France. Infographics by TASS

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