Cyprus, Israel launch air defence exercise

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A large scale annual military exercise codenamed Onisilos-Gideon 2021 got underway Monday to test the island’s air defence capability as part of the cooperation between Cyprus and Israel.

The exercise is directed and coordinated by the National Guard General Staff Air Force Command in cooperation with the Israeli Air Force, began on Monday, the Cyprus Defence Ministry said.

Air manoeuvres by Israeli jets will occur within the Nicosia FIR and a large area of the Republic of Cyprus territory, concluding on Tuesday.

Onisilos-Gedeon 2021 will “train staff on the tactics and procedures for air force deployment, anti-aircraft units, weapons control, transferring information and training of air defence tracking,” the ministry said.

Cyprus and Israel have enhanced their defence cooperation in recent years as they seek to combine it with a joint regional energy strategy.

Closer defence cooperation in the region also involves Greece, France, and the USA.

Reportedly, Israeli military forces, including elite units, will hold a giant exercise on Cyprus this summer.

The Hebrew language newspaper Israel Hayom said among the troops involved will be commandos and Special Forces, Air Force and Navy troops.

The drill will be part of the “war month” – a comprehensive, four-week exercise seeking to simulate prolonged battle conditions to boost the military’s wartime readiness.

Besides ground forces, the exercise will also include large Air Force and Navy contingents, fighter squadrons, assault helicopters and transport planes, and missile boats and warships.

While the Cyprus drill takes place, another large-scale drill will take place in Israel, seeking to streamline the General Staff’s command and control protocols, the paper said.

There was no report on whether Cypriot forces would be involved.