Defence minister candidate: first restored aircraft to take off within two weeks

  • Su-25 ground attack aircraft are being repaired and updated at the local Tbilaviamsheni factory. Screenshot from defence ministry video., 22 Feb 2021 - 16:32, Tbilisi,Georgia

The first Su-25 ground attack aircraft repaired and updated by local industry will take off within two weeks in a demonstration flight, Juansher Burtchuladze, the candidate for Minister of Defence of Georgia, told the parliament on Monday.

Burtchuladze, who is lined up for the MoD post following the promotion of Irakli Garibashvili to prime minister, faced questions by MPs about the ongoing repair and update of Georgian Defence Forces hardware and vehicle fleets, initiated by the previous minister.

Reporting on the process of the local effort to repair and update both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft serving the GDF, the ministerial candidate invited lawmakers to a demonstration flight of the first Su-25 plane within fortnight, and added one aircraft of the model would make a test flight in each of the coming months.

As part of the move for updating and modernising the air fleet, two helicopters are expected to be added to the force until the end of the year, with two more following in 2022, in addition to Mi-24 and UH-1 helicopters entering the ranks of the air force.

Burtchuladze stressed the importance of the restoration of operation of the Aircraft Factory No. 31, closed in the tumultuous post-Soviet decade of the 1990s but reopened and later acquired by Tbilaviamsheni company as a unit under the defence ministry.

The ministerial candidate said the move had returned workers to jobs that produced "hundreds of millions" of GEL and "strengthen[ed] defence capabilities" of the GDF.

The address at the parliament also involved reports on production of other arms and hardware at local enterprises, including Didgori armoured cars, rifles and drones at the Delta centre, as well as prospects for joint defence ventures with foreign partners.

Burtchuladze confirmed MoD plans to open joint production facilities with Polish and Czech companies, a move first revealed by Garibashvili in December.