Russian Air Force to get dozens of helicopters if Mistral deal agreed
The Russian Air Force will receive dozens of Ka-class helicopters if Russia buys a Mistral-class helicopter carrier from France, a deputy head of a Russian aviation production firm said on Monday, RIA Novosti reported.
Russia is negotiating the purchase of at least one French-built Mistral-class amphibious assault ship and plans to build three more vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS.
"During a visit by Mistral to St. Petersburg [in November], we tested the landing of our Ka-27 Helix and Ka-52 Alligator helicopters on the vessel. Currently, the state armament program stipulates the purchase of several dozens helicopters for this deal," Vyacheslav Kovalyov, the first deputy director of the Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise, said.
He added that the Russian Air Force was planning to buy the Ka-52 Alligator, Ka-226 Hoodlum helicopters and a new modification of the Ka-27 helix helicopter, the Ka-27M, the development of which is now in its final stage.
A high-ranking source in Russia's United Industrial Corporation (OPK) confirmed that the country's Air Force was going to buy up to 100 Ka-class helicopters, including some 70 Ka-27M choppers, to equip Mistral ships.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel.
The Russian military has said it plans to use Mistral ships in its Northern and Pacific fleets.
Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase, and some believe that Russia simply wants to gain access to advanced naval technology that could be used in the future in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.
In April, the head of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, Mikhail Dmitriev, said the Mistral deal would be concluded by the end of the year.