STX France has scheduled the launch of the first of two Russian Mistral class assault landing ships for September 2013. The French shipyard will construct each ship to 90 per cent completion before they are moved to the naval base at Toulon for outfitting. Ten hull sections have already been manufactured at St Nazaire since construction began last February.

Meanwhile, Baltiysky Zavod Shipbuilding started construction of the first of 24 hull modules for the first two ships in St Petersburg on 1 October. The United Shipbuilding Corp yard has been subcontracted to build the stern sections, which will be shipped to France for final assembly.

Russia has also begun the manufacture of a navalised version of the Kamov Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter operated by the Russian Air Force to equip the new ships. The Ka-52K will feature a new radar, folding blades and wings and have extra corrosion protection. The Russian Navy has said the first pair will join the Pacific Fleet in 2014 and 2015.

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