Russia has decided to buy Mistral ships from France because it would have taken at least 10 years to develop a similar domestic model, Chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov said Thursday.
"It could take at least 10 years to develop a ship similar to Mistral," Makarov said. "And meanwhile someone will create a better weapon [than Mistral]."
Makarov said Russia should buy the best of modern weaponry abroad to be built under license in Russia.
He also said that the Russian state armaments procurement program until 2020 would be adjusted and would total 23 trillion rubles ($785 billion), or 2 trillion rubles ($68 billion) more than originally planned.
A consortium comprised of French DCNS and Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) won a tender on the construction of four helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy in December 2010.
Moscow and Paris signed an intergovernmental agreement to jointly build the four ships on January 25.
Under the agreement, the first Mistral-class ship, with a price tag of 720 million euros, is expected to be completed in late 2013-early 2014 and the second in late 2014-early 2015.
Russia will construct 20% of the first warship, 40% of the second and 80% of the last two, which are to be built on Russian territory.
Talks on the actual contract to build Mistral ships are still underway. A Rosoboronexport delegation is expected to arrive in France in February to continue the negotiations and sign the contract in April this year.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, 70 armored vehicles, and 450 personnel.
MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti)