The Cypriot defence is in the process of upgrading military equipment and weapons of the National Guard through an armament program in its efforts to counter Turkish belligerence in the region and reinforce its deterrence capabilities. Among the weapons being considered is the French anti-aircraft “Mistral” missile, an option that could neutralise Turkish “Bayraktar TB2” type drones.
The overhaul of the National Guard includes, among others, the following:
1. Partial replacement of the old air defence systems with the purchase of the French new generation “Mistral”, which have a range of 8 km, ie about 21,000 feet. It should be noted that Turkish “Bayraktar TB2” drones can fly up to 22 to 23 thousand feet.
2. The purchase of multiple rocket launchers from Serbia with a range of about 40 km. These launchers can also use smart guided missiles targetting tanks and armoured vehicles on the battlefield. Two Squadrons of 155 mm Nora self-propelled guns have already been purchased.
3. Tenders have already been announced for the purchase of modern combat helicopters. So far, French and Italian companies have expressed interest in participating in the tenders. Procuring helicopters from the European markets has not been ruled out, but Israeli missiles are being prioritised due to reliability and political expediency. Already, Russian Mi-35P helicopters have been sold to Serbia with the consent of the manufacturer.
4. An agreement has been concluded with France for the supply of modern “Exocet” with a range of 180 kilometers in order to cover the Cyprus EEZ. They are expected to be delivered and be operational by 2023.
5. There are plans for the repair of Russian T-80 tanks. In general, all the weapons systems of the National Guard need an upgrade or repair due to old age.