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Russia plans to buy French warship

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A file photo of the amphibious assault ship.

ULAN BATOR (BNS): Russia is likely to purchase a Mistral class amphibious assault ship from France this year, chief of the Russian General Staff has said.

“We are planning to reach an agreement with France this year on the production and the purchase of a Mistral class vessel,” Ria Novosti quoted Gen. Nikolai Makarov as saying Wednesday.

“We are negotiating the purchase of one ship at present, and later planning to acquire 3-4 ships of the same class to be jointly built in Russia,” he said.

According to a high-ranking Russian source close to negotiations, the ship could be worth between $430 million and $580 million. The purchase, if successful, would be the first large-scale arms import deal concluded by Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A Mistral class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 main battle tanks, and 450 soldiers. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and could be used as an amphibious command ship.

Ria Novosti said as the country’s current weapons procurement program through 2015 does not envision construction or purchases of large combat ships, the possible acquisition of a French Mistral class ship was most likely to happen under the new programme for the years up to 2020, which is still in development.

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