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Monday, April 11, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Israeli firm sues Georgia in dispute over drones
it deployed against Russia

TEL AVIV — An Israeli defense major said it failed to obtain payment for the delivery of tens of millions of dollars worth of combat systems to Georgia.


Israel's Elbit Systems has alleged that the former Soviet republic of Georgia withheld payment for a range of unidentified military platforms. Elbit has sued the government of Georgia for $100 million in connection with contracts signed in 2007, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The lawsuit was filed as a result of the government's failure to pay amounts due to the company in connection with deliverable items under several contracts signed in 2007," Elbit said.

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Elbit is said to have been a leading Israeli supplier to Georgia's military. The company reportedly sold 40 Hermes-450 unmanned aerial vehicles to Georgia, with some of them deployed in the brief war with neighboring Russia in 2008.

Elbit is also said to have been contracted to modernize a Russia-origin Su-25 fighter-jet for the Georgian Air Force. The Israeli project to modernize Georgia's military infuriated Russia, which conducted defense industrial projects with the Jewish state.

"Most of the platforms were never delivered [to Georgia]," an industry source said.

Georgia, under U.S. pressure, halted Israeli weapons deliveries in wake of its defeat by Russia. The source said Georgia's use of UAVs eventually led Russia to order similar Israeli unmanned platforms from both Elbit and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries.

Elbit said its suit against Georgia was filed on April 8 in the High Court of Justice in Britain. No further details were reported.

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