Georgia’s first refurbished Su-25UB takes flight

The Georgian Armed Forces-Aviation and Air Defence Command is beginning to refurbish, upgrade and return its Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack/close air support (CAS) fleet to service after being grounded for several years.

The Georgian Ministry of Defence announced on March 6 that the first aircraft, a two-seat Su-25UB, had successfully completed a check flight from Tbilisi that same day, after undergoing a repair and restoration process. The aircraft was still unpainted, in natural metal, although it carried a dummy R-60 (AA-8 Aphid) short-range air-to-air missile under each wing.

Su-25UB [Georgian MOD]
The first Georgian Su-25UB to be returned to airworthiness makes a low pass over the runway at Tbilisi during its first flight on March 6 after the work was completed by TAM. Georgian MOD

The restoration work is being carried out by the Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing Plant (TbilAviaMsheni, TAM) at its facility in Tbilisi, located in Eastern Georgia. These aircraft are being restored in association with the State Military Scientific Technical Centre (SSTC) Delta. A contract with TAM was announced on July 24, 2020 and covers the overhaul and return to service of an unspecified number of Georgian Su-25Ks and Su-25UBs, which have been stored at Marneuli in southern Georgia.

Those confirmed to be undergoing the rebuild with TAM include just two Georgian Su-25UBs: ’20 Blue’ and ’21 Blue’, plus at least four Su-25Ks: ’03 Blue’, ’16 Blue’, ’24 Blue’ and one that remains unidentified. A video of the opening of a new overhaul facility at TAM on October 16, 2020, showed Mil Mi-24V Hind-Es ’01 White’ and ’02 White’, plus Mi-24P Hind-Fs ’07 White’, ’08 White’ and ’10 White’ also in the process of being returned to flight.

Additionally, Georgian-operated Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros jet trainers, Mil Mi-8MTV transport helicopters and Bell UH-1H Iroquois utility helicopters are also scheduled to be returned to an airworthy condition by TAM, with work on two of the L-39Cs already under way. Under the current contract schedule, all are due for completion by 2022.