Helicopter for VIP persons
19 September, 2013
Helicopter for VIP persons
PM Bidzina Ivanishvili reprimanded President Saakashvili for purchasing two French-made Superpuma helicopters for 55 Euros. The President’s team in its part claims that the Government seeks to weaken Georgian aviation by selling these Superpumas.
Certainly Superpumas manufactured by Eurocopter since 1980 are not bad. They are distinguished by efficiency and modern radio electronic equipment. Each of them however costs no more than 15.5 million Dollars. So, it’s a bit strange why paying so much money for just two Superpuma helicopters.
The President asserts that Superpuma is used for double purposes and hence can be used for military operations. One of the purchased helicopters is turned into VIP carriers and therefore defies military use unless its comfortable cabin is dismantled to make room for landing troops.
Mikheil Saakashvili, formerly an opposition leader before coming to power, used to sharply censure the purchase of comfortable French helicopter EC-155 (which cost 10 million Euros) for Shevardnadze but turned the helicopter into a flying home once he became the President.
In general, the question of helicopters is always on the agenda for Georgia considering its mountainous terrain. Simultaneous technical maintenance of helicopters made in three different countries like Russia, United States and France – is both complicated and expensive. It would not be bad if we give preference to a new variation of Russian-made modernized Mi-8 machines because they show top performance in hilly areas. No wonder Pentagon buys Russian Mi-8MTVs for the Afghan Army.
Naturally, we cannot buy Mi helicopters directly from Russia. So, instead we could go for American modernized Iroquois copters. Unlike the original, the modernized version has two engines and four blades.
Although the US is our strategic partner in contrast to Russia, it has given no helicopter to Georgia except Vietnam era Iroquois machines ten years ago.
Perhaps selection of French Superpumas would break the deadlock but unbelievably huge sum paid for the two Superpumas poses a big question mark.
Modern helicopters are in high demand be it army, emergency services or tourists. The private sector will somehow take care of its own interests. Indeed, it is already importing new, small copters for comfortable transportation of businessmen and tourists. As for the Georgian Army, it need strong, heavy load, high flying and economic military transporter and fighter helicopters.
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