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11:22 AM, June 19, 2015
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Russian helicopter carrier similar to Mistral on display at Army-2015 forum (Photo: Ria Novosti)

Russia has started working on a helicopter carrier similar to the stalled French Mistral and is expected to join the forces in 2018, Tass reported last week.

Russia recently displayed the layout of the ship similar to the French Mistral amphibious assault ship at the Army 2015 forum. The helicopter carrier will have eight anti-submarine and amphibious helicopter Ka-27 and Ka-52K on board.

“The assault vessel being built in St.Petersburg’s Yantar shipyards is expected to join the Russian Navy in 2018 after completion of construction and all phases of testing,” the head of the navy's shipbuilding department, Vladimir Tryapichnikov, was quoted as saying late last week by Tass.

The vessel is a second of the Russian Ivan Gren-class landing vessel ordered only a month after France cancelled the $1.3 billion deal for two Mistral-class ships due to concerns over Moscow’s role in Ukranian crisis. The new vessel is named Pyotr Morgunov after the Red Army commander who played decisive role in 1942 defense of Crimean city of Sevastopol in World War-II.

Moscow Times reports say that the Morgunov and its sister ship are not direct replacements for the Mistral carriers but will allow the Russian Navy to land ground forces onto enemy beaches up to 4,000 Kms from their home ports. They are considerably smaller in size than Mistrals and will have space for 300 marines, one helicopter and 40 armored vehicles in comparison to Mistral’s capacity to deploy up to 900 troops, 16 helicopters and 60 armored vehicles.

To make up for this lost capacity, Tryapichnikov said the navy would begin building progressively larger landing ships by 2020.

The new ships will have space for a few helicopters, but not the 16 to 35 carried by a Mistral-class helicopter carrier.

With that in mind, the head of the navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov told TASS Friday that a Mistral-style vessel has been penciled into the military's long-term shipbuilding program through 2050.

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