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Georgian Aircraft Manufacturer Announces Country’s First Combat Drone

Experts feel that last year's Nagorno Karabakh war has had a possible impact on Georgia's military decisions.

A Georgian aircraft manufacturer announced recently that the company is developing the country’s first home-grown reconnaissance and strike drone.

Named Project T-31, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is being developed by Tbilisi-based aviation plant TbilAviaMsheni, Georgia InterPressNews reported.

Speaking to the news agency, company director Vazha Tordia revealed that the firm started working on the UAV two years ago for the country’s air force.

Detailing some of the aircraft’s specifications, the website wrote that the drone will be equipped with electro-optical tracking systems with a carrying capacity for weapons of 350 kilograms (772 pounds), able to fly for up to 24 hours at a stretch.

During reconnaissance missions, the aircraft will be able to fly non-stop for three days using additional fuel tanks.

Two Configurations Under Development

Vehicle specifications were illustrated in a video featuring a computer-generated model of the UAV powered by an internal combustion engine driving a three-blade nose propeller, Janes reported.

Additional details provided in the report include a V-tail, an underbelly electro-optical/infrared payload, and a parabolic antenna installed in the payload bay for line-of-sight transmission of images and data.

The computer model also shows two configurations of the aircraft: a surveillance drone with two fuel tanks under the wings and a combat variant with four guided air-to-ground missiles attached on two pylons under each wing.

Possible Impact of Nagorno Karabakh War

An ex-Soviet country and current NATO member, the nation of four million is bordered to the north and east by a hostile Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan.

Experts feel that the Nagorno Karabakh war between Azerbaijan and Armenia last year has had a possible impact on the country’s military decisions.

“The Nagorno-Karabakh 2020 war probably had a powerful effect on the Georgian military, with respect to observing what a few UCAVs [unmanned combat air vehicles] that are integrated into a larger tactical picture can do,” Samuel Bendett, an expert on the Russian defense scene, told Forbes.

Georgia’s History of Drone Use

Georgia has a history of using drones during armed conflict.

In 2008, Georgia used Israel-supplied drones in their conflict with Russia, Forbes reported.

Georgia’s then-President Mikheil Saakashvili alleged in a 2012 interview that the Jewish nation leaked codes for the drones to Moscow, leading to many UAVs being downed under “very suspicious circumstances.” 

While the theory remains disputed, such speculations have likely contributed to the country’s resolve to develop indigenous UAV technology.

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