France prepares handover of Mistral

France’s STX shipyard has placed four landing craft in the well dock of the Vladivostok helicopter carrier that is to be sent to Russia, the company said at the Euronaval 2014 exhibition on Friday.

Under the contract with Russia’s arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, all the four landing boats are in Saint-Nazaire and will be handed over to Russia together with the Mistral-class helicopter carrier, the Vladivostok.

“We have performed the contract, all the four landing craft are currently in the well dock of the Vladivostok and will go to Russia,” a representative of the French company told TASS.

The landing boats of CTM NG type have a full load displacement of 65 tons, a speed of 13.4 knots, a cruising endurance of 500 nautical miles, and are equipped with three diesel engines with the total power of 1,500 kW.

The first Mistral-class helicopter carrier Vladivostok is due to be delivered to Russia within deadlines fully under the contract, a high-ranking representative of Russia’s delegation at the Euronaval exhibition said on Thursday.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of Russia’s defense industry, earlier this week announced that the first Mistral helicopter carrier will be handed over to Russia by the French side on November 14.

He said that Rosoboronexport had got an invitation to arrive in Saint-Nazaire for the ceremony of handing over the first Vladivostok Mistral-type helicopter carrier. The French side, however, could not confirm his statement.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Thursday the conditions have not yet been met to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia.
The €1.12 billion contract for building Mistrals for the Russian Navy was concluded in June 2011.

The first Mistral-class ship, the Vladivostok, is expected to be delivered by late 2014. The second ship, the Sevastopol, is due to arrive next year.

Florian Phillipot, a Vice President of the rightwing National Front party said on Thursday, France should not succumb to pressures from the US in what concerns the delivery of Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia.

As he commented on a statement by Finance Minister Michel Sapin, who said earlier on the same day conditions for the delivery of Mistrals to Russia had not taken shape yet due to concerns over the situation in Ukraine, Phillipot said it’s time Paris got to its feet and stopped taking instructions from the US.

Paris has contractual obligation that must be honored, Phillipot said, adding that trust in and reputation of the country as a reliable supplier of defence equipment is at stake.

On the other hand, it is also a question of finances and Frances is running the risk of a necessity to pay a multi-billion penalty, he said.

Some 360 Russian seamen and 60 instructors are currently getting trained for a handover of the Vladivostok and for the floating of the second Mistral,” Rogozin said.