2-Jan-2023 Source: HeliHub.com
Just before the Christmas break, a signing ceremony took place between the Georgia Border Police (part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in that former Soviet-bloc country) and Airbus Helicopters. Border Police head Nikoloz Sharadze, and Romain Lana – the Regional Sales Manager Eastern Europe and Central Asia for Airbus Helicopters – presided at the event.
The ceremony was for three new H145 helicopters, and the part-exchange of one AS332L1e Super Puma for a net consideration of approximately €26.5 million. The AS332 garnered an allowance of €5.5 million as part of the deal, and provides a way to get out of a political situation which has existed for at least nine years.
Follow the announcement at the Paris Air Show in 2010 of a order for two Super Pumas, it emerged that the purchase had been orchestrated by then President Mikheil Saakashvili to provide VIP transport aircraft for his personal use. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili was very vocal by 2013 of his desire to sell the pair on the grounds that was immoral to use such expensive helicopters when the majority of the population of Georgia lives in poverty. The two 332s flew very little, and one was withdrawn from use after an accident on 12th July 2018. The remaining example is now being part-exchanged.
The new H145 helicopters will be fully equipped for law enforcement, firefighting and mountain rescue roles. The first will be delivered within 17 months of the contract signing, and thus by mid May 2024. The remaining two will follow within three months of that date. The contract value includes pilot and engineer training courses, spare parts and a 3-year factory warranty.
The Georgia Border Police also flies both an Airbus H125 and an H155, as well as at least four Mil Mi-8s.