France is not the only country Russia can buy a helicopter landing platform from. El Pais reports that Spain is also being considered as a potential supplier. According to the Spanish newspaper, Paris and Madrid are conducting a tough competitive battle. While the Spanish ship is better than the French one in a number of ways, France is more influential, and is trying to use its influence to obtain a profitable contract with Moscow.
The newspaper reports that Russia is choosing between French BPC (The Mistral-class landing platform dock ships) and Spanish BPE (a strategic projection vessel) Juan Carlos I. A delegation of high-ranking Russian Navy officials has recently visited Ferrol shipyards of Navantia, manufacturing company, located in La Coruna.
In addition to better technical features (the Spanish vessel is larger and has a bigger capacity than the French one), Juan Carlos I once won a battle with Mistral in the sea. It happened in 2007, during the only international competition held by the Australian Navy. At the end of the competition Australia decided to purchase two ships similar to the Spanish one, El Pais reports.
Yet, France resorted to its political influence to obtain the contract, and its President Nicolas Sarkozy intends to discuss this issue with Dmitry Medvedev who came to Paris with a visit on Monday.
Russia’s defense Minister Serdyukov said that the probability of Russia purchasing French ships was “very high.” Yet, a delegation was sent to Dutch shipyard Damen, and Navantia was asked to submit a proposal, the newspaper reports.
The article also cites the opinion of specialists who believe that Russia’s desire to purchase ships from European suppliers shows how outdated Russian naval equipment is.
At the end of last year, Vladimir Vysotsky, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, stated that the country may announce a tender for a purchase of a landing platform dock ship. The admiral said that France, Spain and the Netherlands were potential participants.
Juan Carlos I
Juan Carlos I is a multipurpose amphibious warfare ship employed to conduct amphibious and air operations, transportation of armed forces divisions, relief operations and evacuations. The ship can be used as a replacement for an aircraft carrier, ARMS-TASS reports.
Juan Carlos I is 230.82 meters long and 32 meters wide. Displacement of the LHD for amphibious operations is 27,079t. The maximum sustained speed is 21kt. Juan Carlos I is capable of transporting equipment and personnel at the distance of 9,000 nautical miles (16,000 km) with the speed of 15kt (28 kilometers an hour).
The ship has a capacity to carry 243 personnel members, and is capable of transporting up to 902 equipped soldiers and up to 46 Leopard tanks.
The vessel has a flight deck of 202 meters (660 ft) long and 32 meters wide. When used as an aircraft carrier , the ship has eight points for helicopters and planes. She can carry up to 30 NH90 aircraft in the aircraft carrier mode, or 19 AV-8 Harrier or 12 helicopters CH-47 Chinook or 12 NH-90 and 11 AV-8 Harrier.
Her flooding deck of 69.3x16.8 meters can carry four LCM or SUPERCAT or one LCAC.
Mistral is a multipurpose amphibious assault ship with standard displacement of 156.5 thousand tons, full load displacement of 21.3 thousand tons, and displacement with full dock of 32.3 thousand tons. She is 199 meters long and 32 meters wide. Full speed is 18.8kt. Cruising endurance is up to 19.8 thousand miles.
The ship’s helicopter group includes 16 aircrafts (8 amphibious and 8 battle attack helicopters). The flight deck can accommodate 6 helicopters simultaneously . She can carry four assault boats or two cushion crafts, up to 13 tanks and up to 70 cars, as well as up to 470 soldiers (900 short-term).
Mistral is designed for transporting troops and cargo, landing, and can be used as a command communication ship.