On August 20, Russia's Minister for Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, said that Russia would not be building its own helicopter carriers. However, in June of this year, deputy commander-in-chief of the Navy for armament, Vice-Admiral Viktor Bursuk, said that Russian helicopter carriers would be built after 2020. "We will have these ships, they are included in the ship-building program, and they will be built during the second stage of the implementation of the program - after 2020," Bursuk said a few months ago.
Even earlier, Russian ship-builders unveiled a model of the Russian helicopter carrying vessel. The project was called "Priboi." After the presentation, it was reported that Russia would build two of such vessels for the price of 40 billion rubles each.
The topic of Mistral helicopter carriers has been under debate since the time when Russia signed the relevant contract with France in 2011. In 2015, France terminated the deal because of the crisis in Ukraine, even though two vessels had been built by that time. Russian navy men were undergoing training on one of them. In the long run, the French managed to sell those two astral vessels to Egypt.
Why is Russia having so much hassle because of helicopter carriers? Director of the Center for Strategic Studies, Ivan Konovalov, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that Mistral ships are referred to as "the ship of the projection of power" in France. In other words, these ships are designed for military operations in remote areas far from homeland.
"For France, this is still essential, because France has a huge zone of influence in Africa, its former colonies. French troops travel to Africa on a regular basis, but why would Russia need this class of vessels?" the expert wondered.
"Russian concluded the deal for those two Mistral ships for political reasons in the first place. First of all, Moscow wanted the world to see that Russia was ready for large-scale cooperation in defense, to conclude multibillion-dollar contracts with NATO countries. Secondly, then president of France Nicolas Sarkozy positioned himself as a great friend of Russia. In 2008, he contributed to the peace process in the Caucasus. Russia ended the conflict with Georgia without any significant political losses largely owing to France," Ivan Konovalov said.
In general, one can see that Russia has big doubts about the need to build helicopter carriers for its navy. The project is expensive, plus one does not know whether the Russian Navy needs vessels of this class.
However, officials make contradictory statements on the subject, so it would be incorrect to simply shelve the project. It is worthy of note that Russia already has doubts about the need in state-of-the-art Armata tanks and Su-57 fifth-generation fighter aircraft. It appears that the helicopter carrier project will lose the competition.
Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru