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Georgia buying air defense systems without disclosing details of arms deals

Ground Master 200 mobile radio location station. Photo: thalesraytheon.com

Defense Minister of Georgia Tina Khidasheli has announced that a deal was made with the MBDA European Group for supply of advanced air defense systems, the Russian Center for Analysts of the World Arms Trade reports.

Khidaisheli informed Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili of the signed agreements in the presence of the top military command of the country. According to Georgia’s Foreign Ministry, the contract was signed in Paris and came into effect on July 10 and will be implemented starting Jan 1 2016. The type of the air defense system and the cost of the deal are not reported.

According to Georgia’s defense ministry, the given system can be replenished with other components that allow improving its military capacity with the measures affordable for the country.”

Earlier on June 15, at the air show in Le Bourget, France, the defense minister of Georgia signed a deal with Thales for supply of air defense systems. Details of the deal are not disclosed either. Nevertheless, in a video footage of the ceremony one can see a miniature of the Ground Master 200 mobile radio location station which is manufactured jointly by the Thales and Raytheon - ThalesRaytheon Systems. This allows supposing that the deal implies delivery of air threat detection and gun control systems. 

Ground Master 200 is a multi-mission tactical 3-D medium range Air Defense radar that allows detecting air targets on distance of 250km and at the height of 24km and focusing on targets from a distance of up to 100km. The radar can be used together with Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) Centurion system.  The radar station is installed on the motor vehicle 8x8 chassis, the Center reports.

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Khidaisheli said the contracts will significantly improve Georgia’s air defense capabilities – Georgia’s weak point during the August war of 2008. The minister said “the major goal is achieved: Georgia has purchased air defense components that are fully compatible with the NATO systems.”

Earlier, the Center reported that in April 2015 the former minister of defense Mindia Janelidze confirmed the fact of the negotiations for delivery of the air defense systems produced in the West. Negotiations for purchase of the systems in France started yet under Irakli Alasania, the former defense minister. On October 28 2014, he signed a memorandum of understanding with leading French defense companies for supply of air defense and counter-rocket systems.

Considering the statement of the Georgian military saying that the French system is able to intercept the missiles of the Russian Iskander operative tactical system,  one of the supposed options of purchase is  SAMP-T (Sol-Air Moyenne Portee) systems. However, Georgia is not likely to buy SAMP-T due to its high cost and the fact that it is an anti-ballistic missile system.

The analysts of the Center say, Georgia is more likely to purchase either  VL MICA (Vertical launch short range air defense system), as it allows hitting targets in distance of 20km and at the height of up to 30km, or FLAADS-Land – a land variant of the future local area air defense system. The latter allows interception of various goals, including reactive aircrafts and cruise missiles in distance of at least 25km.

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