What is the fate of the Mistral helicopter carriers that France refuses to sell to Russia? It became Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat.

In 2008, the Russian Federation expressed interest in purchasing the French Mistral-class amphibious assault ship. But in the end, because of the crisis in Ukraine, this deal was canceled. So what is the next fate of those ships now?

ENS Gamal Abdel Nasser review

“Special” helicopter carrier

Mistral-class are amphibious assault ships designed to carry helicopters as well as carry out amphibious operations. On a giant ship with a length of nearly 200 meters and a displacement of up to 30 thousand tons, there can be simultaneously carrying 16 helicopters, 70 combat vehicles and hundreds of infantry.

Another mission of Mistral: is a general hospital at sea. Russian sailors, who visited one of the ships built in 2014, said the helicopter carrier had all the necessary medical equipment, including dental and surgical equipment.

The Mistral helicopter carrier can carry an enormous number of devices
The Mistral helicopter carrier can carry an enormous number of devices

The crew is provided with comfortable working and living conditions. Sailors live in four-bed cabins with shower and private bathroom. The primary and intermediate officers were in the double cabins, while the senior commanders were in the single cabins.

Exclusively for the Russian Navy

Negotiations on the construction of Mistral-class ships for Russia began in 2009, and in the following time, Moscow and Paris reached an agreement on the terms of the contract. Under the agreements, the first two ships will be built at French shipyards and the next two will be built at Russian shipyards. Therefore, the Russian Navy will have four helicopter carriers, aimed at providing aviation support for fleets instead of the outdated Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

In 2012, the first Mistral-class ship, named “Vladivostok”, was started construction for the Russian navy, and the second, “Sevastopol”, started a year later. The amount of the contract is 1.2 billion euros. A plan has been adopted that both ships will be dispatched to permanent service in the Pacific Fleet.

At first, everything went smoothly: the helicopter carriers were quickly built, the Russian formed a crew, and the French side was ready to receive the money. However, regarding the annexation of Crimea and the situation in eastern Ukraine, the United States and the United Kingdom demanded that France suspend the transfer of “Mistral” to Russia. For nearly a year, the situation was in limbo, and until July 2015, Paris announced the official cancellation of the contract with Moscow.

Two helicopter carriers were soon completed for the Russian Navy
Two helicopter carriers were soon completed for the Russian Navy

Off the coast of Africa

France was not too upset by this, because even then, Egypt was also actively interested in buying these ships. Paris and Cairo quickly reached an agreement, in June 2016, “Mistrals” arrived at Alexandria, before participating in joint naval exercises of the two countries.

In the country of the Pyramids, these helicopter carriers have been given new names, in honor of former Egyptian presidents. “Vladivostok” became “Gamal Abdel Nasser” and “Sevastopol” changed its name to “Anwar Sadat”. There are no traces of Russia left on those ships. But because these “Mistral” were ordered specifically for Russian helicopters, Cairo ordered 50 Russian Ka-52k and Ka-29/31 helicopters.

This year, both Gamal Abdel Nasser and her sister have begun to actively participate in counterterrorism operations against Islamic elements in Sinai. Helicopters carried by these ships are currently engaged in activities to “wipe out” the coast of the peninsula. Gamal Abdel Nasser also participated in the Medusa-6 military exercise, combined with naval units of Cyprus and Greece.

With the support of this helicopter carrier, the parties tested the interaction between ground, air and sea forces during amphibious operations. As such, the previous Vladivostok and Sevastopol ships are currently being actively used in their new homeland for the intended purpose.


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