Strategy Page on the largest purchase of Western military equipment by Russia since the end of the Second World War:
The Russian Navy intends to have its version of the French Mistral amphibious ships (the Vladivostok Class) carry 30 helicopters (compared to 16 on the French version) and have several other modifications to the ship itself. The Vladivostok Class ships will be armed with two AK-630 multibarrel 30mm autocannon for anti-missile defense. There will also be two quad-launchers of shoulder fired type anti-aircraft missiles (with a 5 kilometer range and good against helicopters) and two or more DP-65 55mm grenade launchers for defense against divers.
The Vladivostoks will also be winterized for use in arctic conditions. The hull with be strengthened to deal with ice and the well deck door will completely close. The flight deck will have a deicing system and the ship will be modified to operate for extended periods in arctic conditions. There is also different electronics and this means a different arrangement of radomes and antennae.
In the aircraft handling areas below the deck height will be higher for the taller Ka-52K and Ka-29 helicopters. The Ka-52K is a navalized version of the Ka-52 that went into production last year. In addition to being equipped with coatings to resist sea water corrosion, the K model will also have a lightweight version of the high-definition Zhuk-AE AESA radar used on jet fighters. This radar currently weighs 275 kg (605 pounds), but the helicopter version will weigh only 80 kg (176 pounds) and enables the Kh-52K to use the Kh-31 anti-ship missile. This weapon has a range of 110 kilometers and travels at high speed (about one kilometer a second.) The Kh-52K can also carry the sub-sonic Kh-31 missile, which has a range of 130 kilometers. Both of these missiles weigh about 600 kg (1,300 pounds) each.
[. . .]
Russia is buying two French Mistral class amphibious ships for $1.7 billion. This is the largest Russian purchase of Western weapons since World War II. The deal was delayed for a long time because the Russians demanded the transfer of shipbuilding and electronics technology (which is now agreed to).
The French navy received the first of the 21,500 ton Mistrals in 2006, with the second one arriving in 2007. Both were ordered in 2001. These two ships replaced two older amphibious landing ships. This gave France a force of four amphibious ships. The two Mistrals are also equipped to serve as command vessels for amphibious operations. The French have been very happy with how the Mistrals have performed.
The Mistrals are similar in design to the U.S. LPD 17 (San Antonio) class. Both classes are about 200 meters/620 feet long, but the LPD 17s displace 25,000 tons. The French ships are more highly automated, requiring a crew of only 180, versus 396 on the LPD 17. On long voyages on the open ocean, the Mistrals require as few as nine sailors and officers on duty (“standing watch”) to keep the ship going.