Cyprus Mail

Cyprus said to be close to selecting new defensive weapons systems

File Photo: Military hardware

The military is reportedly close to making its selection from among a number of anti-aircraft systems, in a bid to boost the Republic’s defensive capabilities.

Citing sources in the defence ministry, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) said various anti-aircraft missile systems have been assessed, and what remains now is a final purchase decision.

CNA said the acquisition would provide an “anti-aircraft screen over the entire island…capable of countering any threat inside Cyprus’ airspace.”

Asked to comment on these reports, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said the Greek Cypriot moves were not conducive to peace and would raise tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

“We are monitoring the matter with unease,” Tatar was quoted as saying. Turkey is a guarantor state. As guarantor, it has the right to speak and to act. As always, it will certainly display its determination on this issue, in order to safeguard the rights and interests of both itself and of the Turkish Cypriots.”

Meanwhile, the Republic’s military is evaluating offers submitted for the sale to Cyprus of multiple-role helicopters, replacing the ageing fleet of Russian Mi-35s. The prospective sellers are European countries.

The National Guard wants a helicopter type than can operate at night, transport combat troops, conduct search & rescue missions, and fire missiles.

Meanwhile the military is awaiting the delivery of French anti-ship Exocet Block 3 missiles, following purchase agreements signed between Nicosia and Paris.

The new-generation Exocet missile has double the range (180km) to the Exocet Block 2 missiles currently in the military’s arsenal.

Exocet missiles can be fired from coastal batteries, and by ships, fighter jets and helicopters.

In addition, procedures are underway for the military upgrade of the ports of Limassol and Larnaca. The defence ministry aims to acquire dedicated space in the two ports for the berthing of warships. It’s understood that the port in Limassol will be the first.

And a study is in progress for upgrades at Mari naval base.

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