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French fighter jets test Cyprus air defences

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French fighter jets took part in a joint military exercise on Monday to test Cyprus’ air defences to better prepare the island for any possible attack.

Cypriot Defence Minister Savvas Angelides said the exercise was concrete proof of that France was a strong ally with more planned in the future.

He said Cyprus is constantly striving to highlight the role it can play in the East Mediterranean region, said today, adding that further joint exercises between the Republic and France would take place.

The National Guard conducted the air defence scenario with French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

“We attended the first phase of the joint exercise with France in which virtual targets were attacked by Rafale jets from the aircraft carrier to activate our air defence system,” Savvides told reporters Monday.

He said he was satisfied with the results of the exercise.

“We are certainly satisfied. We have spoken to the Air Force Commander and knowing that the air defence system has now been integrated into the air force we essentially have the right foundation.”

Savvides said he was glad the National Guard had the opportunity to train at such a high standard and prove it could cope in handling the scenario… “it really seems like we are at a high level.”

“France is a concrete example of the close military cooperation we have with this country…there is really an ongoing effort to show the role we can play in the region.”

He said there will be other military exercises with France related to air defence using air and naval units.

“I believe this is a continuous effort at the level of joint exercises whose sole purpose is to upgrade the National Guard.”

Savvides said Tuesday’s visit of the French Defence Minister will look at further cooperation between the two countries in security cooperation.

“We will be given the opportunity to exchange views on risk assessment in the region,” said Savvides.

Cyprus announced earlier this months that it had ordered French surface-to-air Mistral missiles as well as Exocet anti-ship missiles in a €240 mln arms deal.