Cyprus Mail

Defence ministry plans armament spending spree

The Israeli-made Tavor Χ95 assault rifle is to gradually replace the ageing G3 assault rifle

The National Guard is in the process of upgrading its weapons systems, according to reports.

Daily Politis writes that the military has signed an agreement to procure small arms.

The Israeli-made Tavor Χ95 assault rifle is to gradually replace the ageing G3 assault rifle. In addition, the National Guard will be acquiring new grenade launchers as well as the Accuracy sniper rifle, which has an effective range of three kilometres.

Additionally, the paper said, the military aims to enhance its arsenal of heavy weapons through the purchase of battle tanks and field artillery.

The National Guard was said to be conducting an overall assessment of its armaments. Officers have for years been calling for upgrades, which were put on ice due a combination of the financial squeeze but also talks to reunify the island.

Defence officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Presumably the tanks to be procured would replace the around 50 AMX-30 battle tanks that were decommissioned two years ago and set to be sold as scrap metal.

The tanks in question were already old when they were acquired from Greece in 1996.

The National Guard still possesses another 50 AMX-30B2s – a newer version of the tank – delivered from France in 1988.

In addition, it possesses 82 T-80 Russian-made tanks. The first batch was delivered in 1997, at a reported cost $174 million; a second batch of 41 T-80s was delivered in 2011, costing some $115 million.

This week Defence Minister Christophoros Fokaides was in Israel attending the launch ceremony for an offshore patrol vessel (OPV), which is being built there for Cyprus.

Within the year two more tenders are expected to be completed regarding the purchase of another two OPVs and two speedboats.

In August of this year, a Treasury document was leaked to the press showing that from 1984 to 2016 the state collected some €8 billion in special defence contribution from taxpayers.

Of the €8 billion, only €4.5 billion ended up in the defence fund, the rest going to paying the salaries of civil servants as well as funding social benefits.

Last year, the government reportedly collected €306 million from the special defence contribution, but of this only €46 million went to expenditures on armaments.


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