For Sale: France Mentions Potential Candidates Willing to Buy Mistrals
21:22 06.08.2015(updated 21:25 06.08.2015)
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande made a joint decision to terminate the 1.2-billion euro ($1.32 billion) Mistral contract signed in June 2011.
Following the termination, the French Mistral-class helicopter carriers are now awaiting new customers, said French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in an interview with RTL, although he did not elaborate as to who the prospective buyers are, Atlantico reported.
"There are many interested buyers because it is a high quality vessel with wide application," said the minister.
However, Jean-Yves Le Drian said earlier that it would be extremely difficult for Paris to sell the Mistral somewhere else because they are designed according to Russian requirements. He hinted that he would be glad if the United States agreed to purchase the helicopter carriers but Washington had not responded to such a proposal.
A number of countries are rumored to be interested in purchasing the Mistrals, including China and India. Not a single nation has made an open bid for the warships built specifically for Russia so far.
France's former Minister of Transport Thierry Mariani said that Paris had surrendered to the influence of the United States and Europe in deciding to terminate the Mistral contract with Moscow.
Russian parliament member Franz Klintsevich also noted that it would not be easy for France to find a new application for the Russian-built Mistral.
"Honestly, I really do not know what they (France) will continue to do with the two ships they've already built, which in terms of design were originally made for the Russian weapons. Nothing else can be fixed into there," Klintsevich said, according to RIA Novosti.
Should a third party opt to by the two helicopter carriers, refitting them could cost millions. Meanwhile, the two ships are costing French taxpayers up to $5.5 million in maintenance per month.
According to the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade, the use of the Mistral is impossible without Russian helicopters and landing crafts. Keeping that in mind, the Mistral will either be sent for scrap or converted into a floating immigration camp for migrants from North Africa.
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