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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Canada was Actively Pursuing Mistral Purchase

A recent report to the Canadian Press the Canadian Government was actively pursuing a purchase of the French built Mistral class helicopter carriers. The plan has been put on hold due to the election.

This 'hold' puts the Royal Canadian Navy in a tough spot - as it might lose an opportunity to bid officially on the Mistral ships, as France has begin taking bids from other interested parties for the 220,000 ton ships.

According to the Canadian Press, Canada has been seriously negotiating at a political level with the French with regards to the two Mistral ships originally built for Russia.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said that Conservative Minister of Defence Jason Kenney was actively engaged in sounding out the French. This also included a face-to-face exchange at the most recent NATO meeting in June. This has all stopped now since the Election Call.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Singapore have all expressed interest in the two Mistral ships. Canada has long been short listed by many nations as a potential buyer. The issue was France was not able to take monetary bids until the issue with Russia was officially settled. Now that has happened, France can start receiving bids - and Canada is in an Election.

The Two mistrals can sell for anywhere from $1.6 to $1.9 billion - and would then need hundreds of millions of dollars for upgrades to bring them in line with the Royal Canadian Navy Standards. The problem is Egypt and Saudi Arabia are extremely interested and considered in the running to buy them very shortly.

While the Mistrals are technically Heli-carriers, the French Navy has exclusively used theirs for humanitarian and evacuation missions since 2006. This is something the RCN could clearly use. The Mistrals are capable of carrying 16 helicopters, 59 armoured vehicles, and 450 troops (inclusive of its crew).

The Mistral class ships saga continues. What is clear is the Conservative Government has made a serious pitch to the French Government, and has allowed the French shipyard DCNS to set up an office in Ottawa, as they want to be part of the RCN frigate replacement program. Maybe that will be enough for France to hold off selling the Mistrals, and wait for Canada to say yes.