France inks deal to sell Russia $1.52 bln warships despite NATO concerns

French naval command ship Mistral.

From Alexei Anishchuk, ReutersFrance and Russia signed an agreement on Friday for Paris to supply Moscow with two Mistral class helicopter carriers made by a French-led consortium in a 1.2 billion euro ($1.52 billion) deal.

The long-discussed purchase is Moscow’s first major foreign arms purchase in the two decades since the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia agreed last year to buy the Mistrals, to be made in France, giving it access to advanced technology and alarming some of France’s NATO allies. . . .

France will build two ships, the head of Russia’s arms monopoly Rosoboronexport Anatoly Isaikin said, while Russia’s OSK will build another two. He did not specify when the two other ships would be built.

One of the main sticking points in the negotiations was whether Russia will get access to the technology used in French ships, giving it a glimpse of more advanced naval weapons and defence systems.

Isaikin said Russia will buy fully equipped vessels.

"I don’t know who started this rumour," he said, referring to earlier reports that France could sell the ships without the military technology.

From DPARoman Trotsenko, who heads the Russian shipbuilding company responsible for fitting out the two warships, told the Interfax news agency that France had sealed the deal by agreeing to give Moscow access to its cutting-edge military technologies.

‘The French side agreed to an unprecedented level of cooperation on technologies and is transferring those technologies, among them the control codes for military communications systems,’ Trotsenko told broadcaster Russia-24.

The technology transfer will allow the Russian Navy to operate the same SENIT-9 tactical information system used by France, he said.   (photo: RIA Novosti)

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