Saturday, October 23, 2010

Russia could buy helicopter carriers by year end - military chief

Russia could sign a contract on the purchase of multipurpose helicopter carriers by the end of 2010, the chief of Russia's Armed Forces General Staff said on Thursday.

Russia is expected to hold an international tender on the construction of helicopter carriers for its Navy in the near future.

"Whoever is going to offer a better ship, shorter construction time frame and cheaper price, will be the winner [of the tender]. The contract could be signed by the end of this year," Gen. Nikolai Makarov said.

Makarov added that France, the Netherlands and Spain will be invited to participate in the tender. They will compete with Russia's United Shipbuilding Company.

Experts believe that a French Mistral class amphibious assault ship is most likely to win the tender.

Moscow has been in talks with Paris on the purchase of a Mistral class warship on a 2+2 scheme whereby Russia will buy one or two French-built Mistrals and build another two under license domestically.

The Mistral class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel.

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