Russia is expected to sign a contract to purchase multipurpose helicopter carriers by the end of 2010, the chief of Russia’s armed forces general staff General Nikolai Makarov has said.

An international tender on the construction of helicopter carriers for its navy would be issued 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,” he added.

France, the Netherlands and Spain will participate in the tender along with Russia’s United Shipbuilding Company.

The French Mistral Class amphibious assault ship might be preferred, according to experts.

The Mistral Class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, 70 armoured vehicles, 13 battle tanks and 450 personnel, according to RIA Novosti.