France is satisfied with its contract with Russia for the supply of helicopter carriers of Mistral type and is ready to continue the cooperation in military-technical sphere. In particular, the French party promises this year to issue a contract to build the third and fourth helicopter.
“After selling the Mistral our country is ready to offer Russia the most advanced weapons and military equipment, except ballistic missiles, electronic warfare (EW), NATO code number and automated command and control,” RIA “Novosti” quoted the member of the military section “Valdai Club” Arnaud Kalika.
In June of 2011 under the framework of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia and France signed a contract on the supply to the Russian Navy of two French helicopter carries in 2014 and 2015. The French state-owned naval construction company DCNS at the end of last year said that it had received an advance from the Russian side of a total of 1.2 billion euros and started to build the first ship for Russia.
In addition, it was agreed to build two more ships in the shipyard of the Baltic facility with the participation of the United Shipbuilding Corporation. Later, however, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced that the body of the two Mistrals will be built most likely at “Sevmash” at Severodvinsk. These ships will cost Russia 2.5 billion euros.
Universal helicopter Mistral with a displacement of 21,000 tons and a maximum length of 210 meters is capable of developing speed over 18 knots. Its range is up to 20 thousand miles. Its crew is 160 people, and it has capacity to accommodate additional 450 people.
The Air Group consists of 16 helicopters, six of which can be simultaneously placed on the deck. It is planned to place eight Ka-52K and eight Ka-29 on these ships. Signing of the final contract for the construction of the third and fourth helicopter Mistral is expected in late 2011, but negotiations continue.
The French military and opponents of Sarkozy were not happy with the development, but were impressed with the generousity of the Russians.
“According to my sources, the talks have been successful, and the parties are close to signing this agreement. I think the contract will be signed this year,” said Arnaud Kalika. He also said that the issue of selling Mistral has a certain resonance in the French society.
“In terms of approach of the French military, it should be clearly understood that the Ministry of Defense of France for the most part still has a deep mistrust towards Russia. People in uniform still believe that they have to keep their eyes open with Russia,” said the French expert. According to him, it would be preferable to sell it to Georgia.
“This, they say, would be right French way. Now there is some discomfort of not selling to the right buyer. But, as they say, what’s done is done. Moreover, even the military have to state that when buying Mistral Russian generosity knew no bounds, and in negotiating the price they were really generous,” acknowledged the expert.
If we talk about the reaction of the media, business publications mainly have a pragmatic approach, and the coverage of the topic here was quite objective. These publications interpreted this transaction as personal success of President Nicolas Sarkozy.
There was also an ideological approach to the issue. Some papers wrote that the sale of these large Russian warships means the final end of the Cold War. And yet another approach can be described as tragic. It is mostly characteristic of the current political enemies of the French President who believe he yielded to the insidious Russians who can use Mistral for attacks against French allies.
“With regard to the public in the broadest sense, non-political part of the French citizens, they really do not care about the deal on Mistral. They are equally indifferent to the future prospects of bilateral military-technical cooperation between Moscow and Paris, “said the expert.
The Russian “defense industry” is in a deep resentment, and the Defense Ministry blames it for the lack of foresight.
It was President Dmitry Medvedev who approved the purchase of the foreign military equipment by the Defense Ministry. Against the background of the scandal with the failure of the state defense order, he allowed the head of the department to purchase foreign technology if it is a better deal. The state defense order funding for 2012 is determined at 1.769 trillion rubles.
In Russia, this decision provoked strong reaction. Last summer, the Association of Russian defense industry unions and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia addressed President Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as well as Parliament and the National Security Council, demanding legislation to prohibit continuous purchase of foreign technology.
They accused the Ministry of Defense of purposeful understatement of wages of workers in defense plants in the procurement of defense products. For comparison, an example was given where the average salary in the Russian shipbuilding factories producing military equipment in the budget of defense contracts is approximately 30 thousand rubles. At the same time at the French shipyards manufacturing helicopter Mistral the average salary is approximately 160 thousand rubles.
According to union representatives, this practice is “criminal” in relation to Russian enterprises and workers, as well as contrary to Art. 7 of the Constitution and the General Agreement between the nation-wide associations of trade unions, employers and the Government of the Russian Federation for 2011-2013.
However, the Defense Ministry accused the unions of the lack of foresight, and said that the purchase of helicopter Mistral fully justified itself. “With these purchases we lay the groundwork for the future, because we buy Mistral not to buy and watch it swim. We acquire technology that will in future be applied in our production,” said a source in the Ministry.
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