Reports that Georgia has ordered up to 50 Sukhoi Su-25T Frogfoot attack aircraft are being greeted with scepticism by senior Sukhoi officials, who question the country's ability to finance the aircraft which are priced at $16-17 million each.

Newspaper reports quote Mikhail Tskhadaya, deputy director of the Tbilisi production plant, which manufactured Su-25s when Georgia was part of the former Soviet Union, as saying that 50 aircraft are on order for delivery over the next seven years.

The Tbilisi plant has remained idle since the collapse of the Soviet Union, although the possibility of re-activating it was recently discussed during a visit by a high-ranking Russian Government delegation to the Georgian capital.

About 30 Su-25s, including 12 upgraded Su-25Ts, and associated air-to-surface weapons, are being stored on the ramp at the Tbilisi plant in various stages of completion. Some of the aircraft were flown in combat missions against separatist forces in Abkhasia.

Georgia had intended to sell a batch of Su-25s to Iran, but the deal was cancelled following protests by the US State Department.

Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are also reported to be interested in purchasing attack aircraft from the Georgian plant.

Source: Flight International