Georgia's first restored Su-25 takes flight

Georgia restored Su25 first flight
Georgia's first restored Su-25 makes maiden flight.

On March 6, 2021, Georgia's first restored Su-25 (or Je-31 Bora) ground attack aircraft performed its maiden flight, according to the Georgian Military Department.

The restoration and modernization of the aircraft was carried out by the local firm Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing (TAM). The aircraft will be used for combat and training missions.

The resumption of Su-25 production at the TAM facility was announced in 2020 by Irakli Garibashvili, former Georgian Defense Minister, after sharing the nation's plan to resume manufacturing combat aircraft for domestic and international customers.

According to previous statements by Nodar Beridze, CEO of TAM, the 'new' Su-25 could get good commercial results in Africa and Asia due to the excellent selling price of 20-25 million dollars.

The first flight of the Su-25 had already been announced in February by the current head of the Georgian military department, Juansher Burchuladze, as he spoke about the restoration of the main national aircraft production plant closed after the collapse of the USSR. He promised the first flight by mid-March and that a 'new' fighter plane would take off every month.

The project does not envisage the complete production of fighters, but the restoration of the platforms built at the time of the USSR. It is currently unknown where Georgia gets the components for the aircraft, as deliveries from Russia are completely excluded. Previously the nation had said it was looking to get engines from France and the United States. Rumors also say that Israel has offered its support for the project. Israeli firm Elbit already produced a prototype of a modernized Su-25, called Su-25 Scorpion or Su-25KM, in 2001.

TAM began manufacturing Su-25s in 1978 until Moscow imposed a total ban on exports of Russian military components to Georgia following the 2008 conflict between the two nations. TAM is currently the only manufacturer to have all the technical documentation for the type and has a stock of 50 aircraft.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credit: TAM

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