Moscow: Russia on Friday signed a landmark
deal for the acquisition of two Mistral class helicopter
carriers from France to set a precedent for sale of a potent
military platform by a NATO member state to the former Cold
The 1.2 billion euro deal was signed in St. Petersburg
by Anatoly Isaikin, CEO of Rosoboronexport state arms monopoly
in presence of President Dmitry Medvedev, media reports said.
Quoting experts, local business radio Biznes FM said
that under pressure from Washington, Paris has refused to
transfer sensitive systems command and control and electronic
counter-measures complex used in electronic warfare.
Ruslan Pukhov of Centre of Analysis of Strategies and
Technologies, a local defence think-tank, said the deal will
give Russian an access to cutting edge western military
Earlier reports suggested the shelf price of 1.73
billion euros for the two vessels, which included the transfer
of secret NATO technology. Russia is also expected to
indigenously build two more vessels under French license.
The Mistral class is a class of amphibious assault
ships, referred by the French Navy as "projection and command
It is capable of transporting and deploying 16
helicopters, four landing barges, a 40-strong tank battalion
and 450 marines.
The Mistral class helicopter carriers are equipped
with a 69-bed hospital.
"These vessels will give us the capability to launch
humanitarian operations," Chief of the Russian Naval Staff,
Admiral Vladimir Vystosky told reporters after the signing of