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    Russian lawmaker questions plans for Mistral purchase

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    Plans to buy an expensive helicopter carrier from France could hinder the development of Russia's defense industry, a Russian lawmaker said on Wednesday.

    Plans to buy an expensive helicopter carrier from France could hinder the development of Russia's defense industry, a Russian lawmaker said on Wednesday.

    The Russian military has announced that it was negotiating the purchase of a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship from France, worth 400-500 million euros (around $540-$675 million), and potentially building three or four vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS.

    "Can't we build ships ourselves anymore?" Svetlana Savitskaya, an MP from the communist faction, queried at a parliament session.

    The former Soviet cosmonaut accused the government officials of lobbying the deal in favor of foreign manufacturers and said Russia had vast experience in manufacturing sophisticated military equipment, including ships and nuclear submarines.

    "A slow process of purchases of military hardware abroad has started, which could have a negative impact on Russia's defense potential," Savitskaya said, adding that Russia has already bought reconnaissance drones from Israel while domestic companies have not been able so far to develop comparable equipment.

    In response to Savitskaya's criticism, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia had no choice at present but to buy certain types of weapons and military hardware that the domestic industry cannot produce.

    "Why not, if the Russian defense industry is incapable of making such a product?" Ivanov retorted.

    "Unfortunately, we are lagging behind in certain areas including construction of surface ships," he said, adding that it was inappropriate to compare a nuclear submarine with the Mistral.

    Ivanov also said that despite the overall growth of production in the defense sector, Russian companies did not produce enough components to meet the needs of the domestic defense industry.

    "The defense sector uses 35% of Russian-made components and 65% of components purchased abroad," he said.

     

    MOSCOW, March 10 (RIA Novosti)

     

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