A joint venture of the Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems and the Georgian state investment fund is building a factory in Tbilisi outskirts for production of composite components for the civilian aircraft industry.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of factory close to the Tbilisi international airport was held on September 7 in presence of Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili and Elbit Systems President and CEO Bezhalel Machlis.
The project has an estimated investment cost of USD 85 million, according to the Georgian officials.
The factory will be operated by JSC Aero-Structure Technologies (Cyclone), a joint venture of the Georgian state-owned Partnership Fund and Elbit Systems’ subsidiary Elbit Systems-Cyclone, a manufacturer of metal and composite structural aircraft components and parts for leading aerospace companies.
JSC Aero-Structure Technologies (Cyclone) has a share capital of USD 60 million with Elbit Systems-Cyclone holding 33.3% and the rest are divided between Partnership Fund and its wholly owned LLC Project.
Elbit Systems President and CEO Bezhalel Machlis said that the planned factory in Tbilisi is part of Elbit Systems’ drive to expand its production of aircraft structural components. He also said that the company is considering other possible investment projects in Georgia.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, PM Garibashvili said that 300 people, trained by the Israeli specialists, will be employed in the factory after the completion of its construction in 2017.
In the early 2000s Elbit Systems was working with the Tbilisi aircraft manufacturing factory on the upgrade of Su-25 ground-attack aircraft. In 2007 Georgia bought Hermes 450 reconnaissance drones from Elbit Systems, but the deal went wrong and Georgia had to pay USD 35 million in compensation to the company.
“The fact that Elbit Systems is returning to Georgia means a lot to me personally and for the Georgian government, because this is an expression of confidence towards our government and our country,” PM Garibashvili said.
“I know that several years ago during [Mikheil] Saakashvili’s [presidency], your company unfairly faced problems in Georgia and regrettably, Saakashvili’s government had to pay compensation to the company. The fact that now you are returning back into this country means that confidence… has now been restored."