PARIS, March 9. /TASS/. The amphibious assault helicopter carrier of the Mistral class, the Sevastopol, being built at France’s St. Nazaire shipyards for Russia, will undergo the first sea trials on March 16-20, the contractor company DCNS told TASS, adding that the purpose of the checks will be test navigation systems.
"There will be no Russian sailors on board during the sea trials," the company’s official said. He recalled that the Russian sailors who had taken a six-month course of instruction at the first ship of the Mistral class - the Vladivostok - have left St. Nazaire last December.
The DCNS is going ahead with the project in accordance with the original schedule, the company said. In February, the Sevastopol’s on-board equipment started transmitting the signal for the international Automatic Identification System, AIS.
The €1.12-billion contract for building two Mistral class ships for the Russian Navy was concluded in June 2011. The first ship, the Vladivostok, launched in October 2013, was to be delivered to Russia back in November 2014. At the last moment Paris suspended the handover indefinitely saying the crisis in Ukraine was the reason. The Vladivostok has since remained moored in St. Nazaire. The Sevastopol is to be finalized by the end of this year.
Russia has also purchased French technology for the combat information control and communications systems.
Mistral landing helicopter carriers will perform four tasks at a same time: receive helicopters, land troops, and 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.