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France may sell two military ships to China: reports

France may sell two military ships to China: reports

Taipei, May 13 (CNA) The arrival of a French naval delegation in Shanghai May 9 stirred up rumors that France might sell China two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships it had originally built for Russia. The Dixmude and its escort, the Aconit, a La Fayette-class missile frigate, are currently docked in Shanghai for a week-long visit, for the first time since 2013, and the first time by a Mistral-class vessel, according to reports. France in 2011 agreed to build and sell the two Mistrals to Russia. However, delivery of the vessels was halted when Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 soured relations. According to RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency, in addition to China, France is seeking other prospective buyers, including Brazil, Canada, Egypt and India for the two ships. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has previously asserted that the French government has no grounds for selling the vessels to other nations without Moscow's permission. In complete contrast, however, French media has reported that the French government is mulling the fate of the two amphibious assault ships and that after the decision to deny them to Russia is finalized, they will likely be scuttled or scrapped for parts. Military experts said that the vessels, if acquired by China, would greatly expand its naval projection in territorial disputes in the East and South China Sea, and destabilize security in the region. The Mistral-class ship is distinguished by its capabilities as a helicopter carrier. It is capable of carrying 16 NH90 multi-role or Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. Its 5,200 square-foot flight deck has enough space to launch and land six helicopters. The vessel is also able to carry vehicles as large as a main battle tank, and up to 70 lighter vehicles. As a troop carrier, the ship can transport an assault force of 900 marines on short journeys, or 450 on longer deployments. (By Charles Kang and Ted Chen)


Updated : 2021-09-20 10:39 GMT+08:00