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MOSCOW, August 4. /TASS/. A team of Russian specialists is expected to go to France in September to dismantle the equipment installed on the Mistral class helicopter carriers, a source in Russia’s military-technical cooperation system told TASS on Tuesday.
"A team of specialists is currently being prepared for the communications equipment dismantling from the helicopter carriers. Their departure for France is planned for this September," the source added.
Previously, a source in the Russian defense manufacturing sector told TASS that the Russian authorities had begun to gather a group of specialists who would go to France to dismantle equipment installed on the Mistrals.
"We’ve received a task to do this and we’re gathering a group of experts now who’ll go to France to dismantle the telecommunications and control equipment supplied by Russian manufacturers and installed on the Mistral (The Vladisvostok)," the source said on July 25.
He said the universal character of that equipment, adding it could be used on other Russian naval ships. Telecommunications and control systems for the two helicopter carriers were designed and manufactured by the Sistemy Upravleniya corporation.
The Mistrals are used for the transportation of troops and landfall operations and are also used as command ships. Each of them can carry up to sixteen heavy-duty or thirty-two light helicopters and up to 900 soldiers with armured cars and amphibious assault boats.
The €1.12 billion contract for the construction of two Mistral-type helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy was signed in June 2011. Under the contract, Russia was expected to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in the autumn of 2014. However, Paris suspended the ship’s handover to Russia at the very last moment over Moscow’s stance on developments in neighboring Ukraine.
It was planned that the second ship dubbed the Sevastopol would be handed over to Russia in the second half of 2015. But the deal was suspended like in the case with the first Mistral ship.
Russian presidential aide for military and technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin earlier told TASS Russia was discussing only the sum of compensation for France’s refusal to deliver the amphibious ships and a final document would be signed soon.
On July 26, French President Francois Hollande said that the decision on whether or not to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia will be taken in the coming weeks. He did not elaborate on the fate of the contract, Bloomberg reported. Earlier this month, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a visit to Washington the French government had decided to halt the delivery of the first two Mistral carriers to Russia although it realised it would have to reimburse a big enough sum of money for non-compliance with the contract.
He recalled President Hollande had ordered suspension of the transfer of two newly built ships to Russia in the wake of developments in Ukraine. Drian insisted that this was a correct strategic decision and the situation had not changed a little since then. Conditions for the transaction did not exist at the moment, he said. He admitted along with it that the failure to perform the contract would cost €1.2 billion to the French government.