Russia signs contract for two French warships: AFP
Russia Friday signed a long-awaited contract with France to buy two French Mistral-class warships that has alarmed ex-Soviet neighbours and the United States, an AFP correspondent said.
Russia's Rosoboronexport military corporation and DCNS, the warships' French maker, signed the contract on the sidelines of the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum, the biggest annual economic gathering in Russia.
Financial details were not disclosed but news reports said earlier that the contract is worth 1.1 billion euros ($1.6 billion).
There was no mention of two other warships that were part of the initial framework agreement and which were supposed to have been built in Russia at a later date.
According to the Vedomosti business daily, France has agreed to a transfer of technology under the contract and will transfer to Russia an advance naval operating system called SENIT-9.
The purchase, the first by Russia of major military hardware from a NATO member, has sparked concern in some of France's Atlantic Alliance partners as well as former Soviet states.
A Mistral-class ship can carry up to 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 13 battle tanks, around 100 other vehicles and a 450-strong force. It has facilities for a full command staff and is equipped with a 69-bed hospital.
© 2011 AFP