The Chilean Ministry of Defence is in the final stages of negotiations for the sale of French amphibious assault ship Foudre (L9011) to the Chilean Navy in an $80m deal..

The French ship will replace the decommissioned Valdivia, which was widely used to carry out humanitarian missions, and for the transport of troops and military equipment.

Merco Press has quoted navy commander Admiral Edmundo Gonzalez-Robles as saying: "More than a new acquisition, what we are doing is recovering the capacity we lost when Valdivia, after 15 years in service, was decommissioned."

The 168m-long Foudre has a full displacement capacity of 12,000t, and can cruise at a speed of 21kt and carry up to four helicopters.

The vessel is armed with three Simbad systems, 3.30mm Breda Mauser guns and 412.7mm M2.HB Browing machine guns.

The deal is expected to be signed by next month and the vessel will be delivered in early 2012.