MBDA Mistral ATLAS missiles on ACMAT VLRA 2 delivered to Georgia

On 1 October 2018, events took place at Aleksevka Air Base near Tbilisi on the occasion of Georgian Air Force Day in the presence of Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria, and the Chief of Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces, Major General Vladimir Chachibaya. During the events, the Mistral Atlas short-range air missile systems manufactured by MBDA was displayed on French-made ACMAT VLRA 2 vehicles.

MBDA Mistral ATLAS missiles on ACMAT VLRA 2 delivered to Georgia
MBDA Mistral ATLAS short-range anti-aircraft missile systems on Arquus ACMAT VLRA 2 chassis received by Georgia. On the left: TRS Ground Master GM403 on Renault Trucks Defense chassis. Aleksevka, 1st October 2018. (Picture source: Ministry of Defense of Georgia)

On 15 June 2015, the Georgian Ministry of Defense had concluded contracts with France for an amount exceeding 100 million euros for the purchase of air defense systems. A € 56.14 million contract with ThalesRaytheonSystems (TRS, a joint venture between the American company Raytheon and the French group Thales) provided for the delivery of a mobile ground-based warning radar to detect and monitor Ground Master GM403 air targets, and two mobile radars for mid-range detection of Ground Master GM200 air targets, as well as Thales mobile air defense command posts.

The second contract, worth more than 50 million euros, was for the supply of MBDA Mistral ATLAS anti-aircraft missile systems (initial report on Georgia's acquisition of the French air defense system MICA VL). The Mistral MANPADS is a short range (6.5 km) air defence weapon system, firing the Mistral, latest generation fire-and-forget missile (infrared homing). It features a lightweight man-portable launcher. It can easily be transported and operated from the ground, a vehicle, a building or a ship. It is normally operated by a gunner and a crew commander. However, if the mission is carried out in a simple tactical environment, it can be operated by one single soldier. The Mistral itself is a man-portable, fully digital, heat-seeking missile, designed to meet the requirements of all branches of the armed forces. It boasts a 97% proven success rate and higher reliability than any other existing low-level air defence missile. The high-explosive warhead, which contains high density tungsten ballswarhead, weighs 2.95 kg. The missile flies at 800 m/s, approximatively Mach 2.6 (high supersonic).

The Mistral ATLAS dual launchers purchased by Georgia are installed on Arquus VLRA 2 chassis in 4x4 version.The French company Acmat, now belonging to Arquus, developed a top-class family of 4x4 and 6x6 tactical vehicles. The ALTV is air transportable by plane and suitable for parachuting. Many versions of this 3.5-tonne gross weight, 4-wheel drive liaison vehicle are available. The 1.3-tonne payload capacity enables up to ten people to be carried. The ACMAT ALTV can be fitted with weapons support, mounted to the back sides of the vehicle, as 12,7 mm machine gun circular station, 7,62 mm swivel stations or 40 mm grenade launchers. The ACMAT Defense ALTV has an extremely robust chassis, designed for mobile light army and police units. The vehicle is motorized with a 2.5-liter turbodiesel coupled to a manual gearbox with 6 forward and 1 reverse, or automatic gearbox with 5 forward and 1 reverse. The ALTV can reach a maximum speed of 170 km/h with a range of 1,600 km.

The implementation of the contracts with Georgia was delayed for political and financial reasons. It was not until 2017 that the French leaders gave their agreement for its implementation, following which the French bank Societe Generale granted a loan to Georgia of about 100 million euros. euros to finance contracts. Authorization for the shipment of the equipment was given in Paris in early 2018.

The GM403 Ground Master was the subject of a first military exhibition on 26 May 2018 on the Freedom Square in Tbilisi as part of the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of Georgia's independence; it has just been exposed again on October 1 in Aleksevka. The Ground Master GM200 radar, which is part of the Air Defense Command, was first shown in Aleksevka on 31 May 2018. The equipment supplied under this contract is mounted on an Arquus chassis (ex-Renault Trucks Defense) type K in 8x8 version.