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MOSCOW, August 25. /TASS/. The first team of Russian experts has already departed for France to discuss the timeframe for dismantling the equipment from the Mistral helicopter carriers and for signing a respective agreement, a source in the Russian military and technical cooperation sector said.
"The first team of specialists from Russia left for France these days to sign a deal detailing the timeframe and other technical issues for dismantling the equipment from Mistrals," the source told TASS on Tuesday.
The second Russian team is likely to come to France in early October, he said.
Earlier reports said the Russian experts were expected to arrive in France in September to dismantle the equipment.
Telecommunications and control systems for the two helicopter carriers were designed and manufactured by the Russian 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 armored 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.
In early August, Russia and France reached an agreement to officially cancel the contract.