Cyprus signs €240 mln French missiles contract

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Cyprus has ordered French surface-to-air Mistral missiles as well as Exocet anti-ship missiles in a €240 mln arms deal, the Defence Ministry confirmed on Friday.

French newspaper La Tribune reported the missile deal on Thursday and the Defence Ministry confirmed the deal but said it could not go into any detail due to the sensitive nature of “national security”.

It said the missile purchase was “part of the upgrade of the National Guard’s operational capability” and “contracts were signed related to upgrading specific weapons systems at an estimated cost of €240 million”.

According to La Tribune, Cyprus signed contracts with the European multinational MBDA for the supply of Mistral and Exocet missiles.

It said Cyprus has ordered surface-to-air Mistral missiles which can be used against fast boats, as well as Exocet anti-ship missiles, intended to arm a coastal defence battery.

The Exocet is designed for attacking small- to-medium-size warships while the Mistral is a very short-range air defence missile system that can be used from vehicles, ships, helicopters, as well as in a portable configuration.

The weapons sale comes at a time Cyprus is looking to bolster its defence capability as Turkey ratchets up tensions in the region over its illegal drilling operations in Cypriot waters.

France and Cyprus have cultivated closer military ties over the past three years.