Georgia to produce UAVs, rifles with partners, obtain air defence, anti-tank systems

The MoD aims to obtain a further batch of Javelin anti-tank portable systems from the US following deals in recent years. Photo: Irish Defence Forces on Flickr., 13 May 2021 - 17:57, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian defence industry will join forces with Israeli partners to produce M4 rifles while also being in talks with Polish and South African companies to launch joint production of unmanned aerial vehicles - in addition to planning procurement of a further batch of Javelin anti-tank systems from the United States and anti-air missile systems from an Israeli company.

The news were revealed by Minister of Defence Juansher Burchuladze in his briefing to the parliament on Thursday around the ministry's initiatives for bolstering Georgian Defence Forces equipment and launching local production of arms and technology.

The production of the M4 - a US-designed rifle equipping troops and special forces in dozens of countries including US, Georgia and Israel - is expected to commence in late 2021 on a joint Georgian-Israeli line at the local Delta defence production company grounds, Burchuladze told MPs during his 'Minister's Hour' briefing.

Along with the initiative, the MoD is in talks with Polish and South African partners to begin construction of UAVs at joint plants in 2022, also utilising infrastructure of the Georgian company that has expanded and developed its capacity over the last decade or so.

In his comments Burchuladze said moves for procurement of drones would continue alongside the launch of their local production, and said talks with NATO partner states were ongoing around details.

The defence minister told MPs recent armed clashes in the South Caucasus and across the world had highlighted the significance of "operational and tactical" drones and "electronic intelligence and surveillance" systems, making them a matter of "special attention" for the armed forces.

In a third project revealed by the minister at the briefing, the MoD is working to obtain mobile anti-air missile defence systems from Rafael, an Israeli arms producer, to equip its manoeuvring forces before the end of 2021.

Burchuladze also revealed the MoD was planning to obtain further batches of the FGM-148 Javelin, a US-produced portable anti-tank missile launcher the Georgian Defence Forces have received in the recent years. In his comments the minister said the troops required more of the modern systems for increasing their capacity for "neutralising numerically and technologically superior hostile forces."

Reporting on his recent discussion of prospects for deepening defence cooperation with the US with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Burchuladze said his American counterpart had confirmed readiness for expanding the partnership.