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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Moscow, Paris signed Mistral protocol of intent, not final deal

RIA Novosti

13:26 14/06/2011

June 14 (RIA Novosti) - The governments of Russia and France have signed a protocol of intent on the purchase of Mistral class helicopter carriers, but not a final contract, a source close to the talks said on Tuesday.

Mistral class ships are equipped with a NATO-standard SENIT-9 naval tactical data system and SIC-21 fleet command system. France is strongly opposed to delivering the SENIT-9 to Russia with a production license, and apparently does not want to include the SIC-21 at all.

Earlier this month media reports said that the agreement was signed on June 10.

"A protocol of intent to sign such an agreement was signed," the source is quoted as saying.

The first two helicopter carriers will be built in France and will cost 1.2 billion euros ($1.7 billion), Kommersant said, citing a source. The ships will be equipped with SENIT-9, the source told the Russian daily, but the technology will not be transferred to Russia.

Russia completely replaced its team of negotiators on May 5 hoping to change the course of the talks by starting from scratch.

Experts believe that the controversial issues of such a highly-publicized and politically charged deal could be resolved only through a compromise between the Russian and French leaders.

Russia and France in January signed an intergovernmental agreement to jointly build two Mistral-class helicopter carriers at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Another two are planned to be constructed later at the Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg.

A Mistral-class ship is capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, 70 armored vehicles, and 450 personnel.

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