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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Moscow could hold tender for helicopter carrier - source

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, December 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia could soon call a tender to buy a Mistral-class helicopter carrier, a defense industry source said on Tuesday.

He said "companies from several countries" would participate in the tender, mentioning specifically France, The Netherlands, and Spain.

He also said consultations were ongoing with France on the possible sale of a French warship.

"The Russian side reiterated its position that it needs not just one warship but technology to enable it to build such ships at Russian shipyards," he said.

He said consultations would continue not only with France but also with a number of other countries that had the relevant technology.

The chief of the General Staff earlier said that Russia would decide by the end of 2009 whether to purchase a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship from France.

The Defense Ministry has said a final decision should be based on "a thorough assessment of the effectiveness of [French] technology in the framework of domestic shipbuilding program."

Industry officials have said it is "senseless and wrong" to speak of buying weapon systems for the Navy without obtaining appropriate advanced technology for their subsequent production in Russia.

Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said in late November that Russia could build its own helicopter carrier on a par with the French Mistral-class warship, and that the Defense Ministry could contract the United Shipbuilding Corporation to build it.

The Russian military earlier announced that it was considering buying one of the Mistral-class ships, worth 400-500 million euros (around $600-$750 mln), and potentially building three or four vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS.

A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 soldiers. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and can be used as an amphibious command ship.

Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase.

Russia's current arms procurement program through 2015 does not provide for construction or purchases of large warships, so the acquisition of a French warship is more likely under a new program, through 2020, which has yet to be developed.

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