Russia’s United Ship-building Corporation (USC) can build Russian analogues of French Mistral-type helicopter carriers at its Baltic Shipyard if it has an order from the defence ministry, USC President Alexei Rakhmanov said on Monday.
"If the defence ministry thinks such ships are needed in a specialized modification with due account of our climatic zones and the defence doctrine, we will build such ships. There is nothing super sophisticated about them," he said.
"We need a clear task. From the point of view of production location, we know how to do that," he told the Ekho Moskvy radio station. In his words, the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg is quite capable of tackling this task, since it was engaged in the construction of Mistrals’ afterbodies. He said that after the overhaul of the company’s shipyards, it was capable of building ships up to 250 metres long, or by 50 metres longer than French Mistrals.
When asked whether Russia’s defence ministry had plans to build helicopter carriers domestically, Rakhmanov said he "had no information about such plans."
He gave to understand that Russian-made helicopter carriers would be cheaper. "If compare the price offhand, I can say that Russian submarines are 2.5 times cheaper. As for surface ships, it depends on the class," he noted.
The contract for the construction of two Mistral-type helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy to a sum of 1.12 billion euro was signed in June 2011. The first such ship that was given the name Vladivostok was launched in October 2013 and was to be handed over to Russia in November 2014. But at the very last moment, Paris suspended the ship’s handing over to Russia for an indefinite time citing Moscow’s stance in regard to the conflict in Ukraine. Initially, it was planned that the second ship - the Sevastopol - would be handed over to Russia in the second half of 2015. But the deal was suspended like in the case of the first Mistral ship.
The Mistral-type helicopter carriers have a displacement of 21 tons, the maximum body length of 210 meters, the speed of 18 knots and the range of up to 20,000 miles. The helicopter carrier can accommodate 450 people in addition to its crew of 180. It carries 16 helicopters, of which six can be simultaneously stored on the flight-deck. A compartment in the cargo deck can accommodate more than 40 tanks or 70 motorized vehicles. Mistral landing helicopter carriers are capable of performing four tasks at the same time: receive helicopters, land troops, and act as a command post and a floating hospital.