Georgia in Talks with Czech Republic, Israel, and Poland for Joint Defense Production
Georgian Minister of Defense Irakli Garibashvili has announced that Georgia is currently in talks with the Czech Republic, Israel, and Poland for joint defense production. According to the 2020 Defense Ministry report, the Georgian Defense Forces will be completely equipped with weaponry in compliance with NATO standards by the end of next year. According to Garibashvili, this new equipment includes M4 rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, artillery, mobile anti-air hardware, close-range anti-tank weaponry, and operational and tactical drones.
Under Garibashvili, defense production has increased, and in 2020 the Ministry of Defense has signed numerous deals with foreign partners to modernize the GDF’s equipment. In June, Georgia inked a deal to update its military transportation, buying trucks from European and American companies. Over 500 trucks were provided to the GDF by the German company MAN, the Italian company IVECO, as well as the U.S. company Ford. These three companies are also responsible for equipping armed forces of NATO member states. The Ministry said that this purchase helped to upgrade the Georgian military’s logistic and transportation capabilities to NATO standards. The Ministry of Defense announced an initiative to repair its air assets, including that Georgia’s Su-25 ground attack aircraft, L-39 jets, Mi-24 attack helicopters, and UH-1 utility helicopters would be undergoing modernization through the joint efforts of Tbilaviamsheni and Delta.
In September, the Georgian Ministry of Defense made deals with multiple Israeli defense companies to modernize the GDF’s air defense systems. The Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems was tasked with working with the Georgian military to bring anti-air assets up to required standards, which also required re-training for the personnel crewing the systems. Another Israeli defense company, Elbit Systems, that specializes in arms technology, has entered into an agreement to upgrade electronic systems of air assets of the Georgian armed forces. Georgia also announced its purchase of Spanish-made tactical and operational drones that would be used in aerial reconnaissance units and rescue missions. The Defense Ministry said that the new equipment would “significantly strengthen defensive capabilities.”
Throughout 2020, the Georgian Ministry of Defense has prioritized modernizing its military through deals with international partners. Georgia’s strong defense partnership with NATO, and its desire to become a member state is evident through the Ministry of Defense’s commitment to upgrading its defense forces to meet NATO standards. In 2020 alone, Georgia has further demonstrated its commitment to NATO through its participation in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan as the mission’s largest non-member state contributor. This year, Georgia hosted the fifth iteration of the annual Noble Partner Exercises involving troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Poland, exemplifying its commitment to cooperation with its Western defense allies. However, while Georgia continues expanding its international defense cooperation, an offer of NATO membership remains unlikely so long as the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia continues, a convenient way for Moscow to keep Tbilisi out of NATO.