Didgori armored personnel carriers, soon on their way to Azerbaijan and Korea?
Georgia's brand-new domestically produced armored vehicles may already have interest from foreign buyers, some government officials are saying, according to a report in Georgian newspaper Mteli Kvira (via BBC Monitoring). One of the officials is President Mikheil Saakashvili:
"Before the [1 October 2012] election, I often heard people saying that the Georgian military hardware production is a bluff. However, the public knows very well that it is not a bluff. Lazika and Didgori really exist and are so good that even South Korea and Azerbaijan got interested in them. I know it for sure...", the president said.
And though Georgia's defense industry has been the source of some political sparring between Saakashvili's United National Movement and the rival governing Georgian Dream, the latter confirmed Saakashvili's claim (while still using it as the occasion for some additional sparring).:
Defence Minister Advisor Vako Avaliani told Mteli Kvira ... that the fact that South Korea and Azerbaijan expressed interest in the Georgian military hardware is a top secret and in contrast to the president, he is going to respect the rule.
However, Parliament Defence and Security Committee Chairman Irakli Sesiashvili openly spoke about other countries' interest in the Georgian-made armoured vehicles.
"Delta is intensively working on different orders, which is a rather important issue. It should be noted that until present, the state has never worked in this direction and was only restricted to the domestic market.
"At the moment, South Korea, Azerbaijan and some other countries, too, show interest. What matters is that we correctly work out every detail when working on orders," Sesiashvili told Mteli Kvira.
On the face of it, this seems unlikely, in particular the alleged Korean interest. South Korea operates a first-class military, buying American armored vehicles and producing their own. So would they be interested in an unproven product from a country they have no close ties to? Still, stranger things have happened. We'll just have to wait for this to leave the realm of the "top secret."