LONDON – The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs inked a contract with Airbus Helicopters, a well-respected French-European aircraft manufacturer for the purchase of three H145 helicopters. The three H145s are designated to undergo firefighting and mountain rescue missions.
The move signals that Georgia’s helicopter scene is about to get more modern as the country is moving away from Soviet-made helicopters to a western-centric machine.
The latest agreement between the French company and the Georgian government includes a trade-in of a helicopter aircraft purchased by the former administration but left unused over many years.
This suggests a new era in which Georgia is ready to increase its rotorcraft capabilities within the country.
This deal, according to the government is valued at €26.5 million, with the involvement of Government saving €5,500,000 by trading in an AS332 Super Puma helicopter.
The Super Puma was purchased by the ministry for the use of ‘high officials VIP’ transportation and had been scrutinised heavily during the United National Movement Government.
The current administration claims that it is now proactively looking to sell or exchange the Super Puma over the past years.
The Georgian government summarised that this latest deal will see the acquisition of three brand new ex-factory H145s. This is a twin-engine aircraft, with the capabilities to carry up to nine occupants and two crew.
Depending on the interior configuration, it can be VIP or medical evacuation or utility. As the helicopter is designated for firefighting and searches and rescue, VIP configuration in this case will be rarely used if at all.
The H145 has always been marketed as a rotorcraft for comfort, which means it is rather popular for passenger transport, corporate transport, emergency medical services, search and rescue, para-public and utility missions.
The case of this latest purchase shows that the H145 is highly capable of undertaking multi-role missions.
The Ministry stated that: “This type of helicopter is distinguished by the ability to operate and manoeuvre at high altitudes, which, considering the mountainous terrain of Georgia, will be fully compatible with the existing tasks.”
The Georgian government stated that the first helicopter is slated for delivery within 17 months after the inking of the contract and that all three machines will be in the country in full airworthy conditions.
In addition, the contract includes other value-added services as well, including pilot and engineer training, spare parts, supple and a factory warranty lasting three years.
Purchase of the H145 is a step towards the future
The helicopter scene in Georgia is not that well known, and the image it’s portraying is rather negative following the crash in northern Georgia killing 8 people during a rescue operation at Gudauri ski resort.
The helicopter that crashed was an aircraft belonging to the Georgian border police, which was the Soviet-built Mil Mi-8.
With the introduction of newer helicopters into its fleet, the country may have better rescue capabilities and a raising in its overall safety standards.