PARIS, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A French construction company said Friday it has begun work on the first Mistral helicopter ship destined for the Russian navy.
"Russia made an advance payment several weeks ago, and the construction works are about to start," said an official at French naval defense company DCNS, formerly known as Direction Technique des Constructions Navales. "The first Mistral ship will be supplied to the Russian Navy in 2014 and the second in 2015," the Russian news agency, ITAR-Tass reported.
A second ship will begin construction in France in several months with Russia building the third and fourth carrier ships on its own soil, the agency reported under terms of a $1.2 billion contract signed in June.
There's enough room for six helicopters on the Mistral's runway and an engine system enabling it to rotate 360 degrees, RIA Novosti reported in a YouTube demonstration.
"Designed primarily for landing operations and to transport helicopters, the French carrier can serve as a floating hospital and a command center during naval operations," said Mathier Douiet, a French commander of one Mistral ship.
A Mistrial can hold 16 helicopters below decks, a crew of 900, 70 pieces of armor, and includes a bakery and a gym, RIA Novosti said.