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France to honour Mistral deal with Russia

31 August 2012

French Navy's Command and Projection Ship Mistral

France will not cancel its $1.2bn Mistral-class amphibious assault ship contract with the Russian Navy over the issue of Syria, the country's foreign minister Laurent Fabius has confirmed.

Russia and China have already blocked three UN resolutions on Syria, in opposition to international military intervention amid escalating violence within the country, as reported by RIA Novosti.

When interviewed by France Inter radio station, Fabius was said that Russia was being pressured only in a diplomatic fashion and hoped that the negotiations would continue to help find a solution for the conflict.

Fabius, however, warned that French-built military equipment would not be sold by Russia to any other country.

"If we learn about reselling, we will end all future supplies," Fabius said.

As part of an intergovernmental agreement between for four Mistral vessels, Russia agreed to purchase two Mistral-class aircraft carriers from France in a deal worth $1.52bn in June 2011.

"If we learn about reselling, we will end all future supplies."

Under the deal, which also includes transfer of technology, DCNS will serve as the prime contractor while STX shipyard, Saint-Nazaire in western France, and Russian shipbuilder OSK will be subcontracted to the shipbuilding platforms.

The first and second ships are scheduled to be delivered to Russia in 2014 and 2015 respectively, while the contract award for the third and fourth ships is expected later this year.

Capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, 70 armoured vehicles and 450 personnel, the 199m-long, 22,000t Mistral-class ships have a cruising speed in excess of 18knots.

The Russian military said that the Mistral ships would be deployed in its Northern and Pacific fleets.

Armed with two Breda Mauser 30mm naval guns and four 12.7mm machine guns, the Mistral-class frigates feature MRR-3D NG surveillance radar and a high-performance communications suite to support humanitarian operations during peacetime and wartime, as well as for a variety of other missions.


Image: The French Navy's command and protection ship Mistral (L 9013). Photo: courtesy of Rama.