Russia will sign an agreement with France on the purchase of a Mistral-class helicopter carrier by yearend, the head of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation said on Wednesday.
Russia has negotiated the purchase of at least one Mistral-class amphibious assault ship, worth 400-500 million euros (around $540-$675 million) and plans to build three more vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS.
France insists on selling two vessels and building another two in Russia.
"The agreement on the purchase of a Mistral-class ship is due to be signed by yearend," Mikhail Dmitriev said, adding that the French side is more optimistic and believes that a contract could be ready for signing as early as September.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel.
Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase, and some believe that Russia simply wants to gain access to advanced naval technology that could be used in the future in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.
MOSCOW, April 21 (RIA Novosti)