The Mistral with hull number L9013 is the lead ship of Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, she is the fourth vessel of this name and is also known as a helicopter carrier.

Introduce

Although the military situation in Asia is developing hotly, Europe is still the cradle of the most powerful military forces in the world. Along with leading military powers such as Russia, the United Kingdom or Germany, France remains one of the formidable military forces in Europe.

Mistral-class amphibious ships are considered the pride of the French defense industry. It is the second largest warship in France after the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, and is Europe’s most powerful amphibious assault ship.

With its superior design, modern electronic warfare capabilities and extremely high carrying capacity, Mistral-class amphibious assault ships play a key role in the French navy. They can carry all types of helicopters serving the French army.

The Mistral with hull number L9013 is the lead ship of Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, she is the fourth vessel of this name and is also known as a helicopter carrier. The ship served as a command ship, support of amphibious operations, logistical, humanitarian evacuation, field hospital and other naval combat missions.

Design

The idea of a multi-purpose intervention vessel has been studied by the French since the late 1990s of the last century. A new doctrine of amphibious operations was born to innovate and increase the French Navy’s amphibious capabilities.

The amphibious assaults will be carried out in a flash, enhancing air superiority, increasing the number of combat vehicles and troops. This force can intervene anywhere within 5,000 km of French metropolitan areas, assisting overseas territories or allies of France.

Mistral began her trials in January 2005 and was officially commissioned in February 2006. The ship is one of the largest warships in the French Navy with a full load displacement of 21,300 tons, a length of 199m, the beam is 32m and the draft is 6.3m.

Mistral’s appearance is quite unique, looks like a giant passenger ship with a bow amputated. The flight deck has an area of ​​6,400 square meters, six landing points that allow multiple helicopters to operate simultaneously. One of them is capable of supporting a 33-ton helicopter. The superstructure is located on the starboard side, this is where the ship’s bridge is located, the control center of weapons systems, antennas of communication systems and radar systems.

At the aft of the superstructure are four smoke funnels, followed by an industrial crane. There are two 13-ton elevators, one near the stern, one at the rear of the island superstructure. The elevators help connect the flight deck and hangar, which is large enough to move the helicopter with its rotors in flight configuration. The hangar is 1,800 square meters and may contain 16 helicopters, including maintenance area.

Capacity

Mistral’s aviation capability is thought to be approach to the American Wasp-class amphibious assault ships. As mentioned above, Mistral can carry any helicopter operated by the French army, including 16 heavy or 35 light helicopters.

If equipped with a 15 to 20 meter ski-jump module, the Mistral can take on the role of a light aircraft carrier, meet the requirements of  short take-off and vertical-landing aircraft such as the Harrier and F-35B.

Mistral can hold up to 450 fully armed soldiers, and can be doubled with short-term deployments. By design, Mistral has a vehicle hangar of 2,650 square meters, which can carry a battalion of 40 Leclerc tanks or hundreds of small trucks and armored vehicles.

Landing crafts can be accessed or launched through an 885-square-meter well deck at the stern, Mistral can operate four landing crafts. To increase interoperability with the United States Marine Corps and the Royal Navy, Mistral was designed to operate two LCAC hovercrafts, although the French Navy did not have any LCACs.

Propulsion

The Mistral is equipped with two Mermaid electric motors producing 7 Mega watts each. There are also four more Wartsila 16 V32 diesels-alternators and an extra 18V200 auxiliary diesel-alternator.

With this propulsion system, the ship can reach a maximum speed of 18 knots, allowing it to operate within 10,800 km, which could be increased to 19,800 km if running in economical mode at 15 knots.

Armament

Despite being a helicopter carrier, Mistral is also equipped with a defense system of two MBDA Simbad short-range air defense missile systems. The complex is integrated with an infrared guidance radar system with an effective range of more than 6 km, providing defense against aircraft and anti-ship cruise missiles.

Mistral is also equipped with two 20mm NARWHAL naval guns, two 7.62mm M134 miniguns and four 12.7mm M2-HB Browning machine guns.

Sensor and electronic systems

French weapons are always famous for extremely modern electronic systems, and Mistral is no exception. In combat, it can be used as a command and control ship with a command center accommodating 150 people.

All information obtained from the sensors will be concentrated on the SENIT 9 naval battle system for analysis and evaluation.

The Mistral’s radar system can detect low and medium-range targets at distances up to 140km and up to 180km in long-range three-dimensional realm mode. In self-defense mode, the ship can detect and track any threat within a radius of 60km.

With such capabilities, the Mistral is considered one of the few most powerful amphibious assault ships in the world.

Potential

Mistral’s fame made even Russia order these two ships. This was the first major arms contract that Russia had gained from the West, something the Soviet Union had never done before. Russia originally planned to order two Mistral-class amphibious ships to boost its naval might. However, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and allegedly interfering in the situation in eastern Ukraine, the contract was canceled.

Shortly after compensating the contract to Russia, France sold the two ships to Egypt in 2015. By 2016, both of these helicopter carriers were transferred to Egypt by the French. The Vladivostok was renamed Gamal Abdel Nasser bearing the number L1010, while the Sevastopol was renamed Anwar El Sadat and bearing the number L1020.

The loss of the two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships was one of the major losses for Russia. Although Moscow has repeatedly stated that it is possible to build a warship similar to Mistral, observers say that under the current circumstances, it is impossible for Russia to build a battleship like Mistral.

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