Cyprus seeks to upgrade its military response capability to combat Turkish drones stationed in the north and occupation troops supplied German tanks.
Ankara has recently reinforced its 35,000 troops with a number of German-made Leopard 2A4 tanks.
It has also turned the airbase at Lefkoniko into a drone base, causing unease among neighbouring countries, which see the station as a source of instability in the volatile Eastern Mediterranean.
In comments to Kathimerini daily, Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides confirmed the National Guard is on track to purchase weapons systems in response to the upgrade of Turkey’s occupation force.
Referring to the increase in defence spending, Petrides said once plans for upgrading Cyprus’ military response capacity; the National Guard will have unprecedented capabilities.
“In general, these means will concern the enhancement of early warning systems, gathering information over a situation, and striking targets with precision over long distances.
“Another area we are working on is dealing effectively with threats from the air, sea and land, including UAVs and the land capability of the occupying forces.”
In the face of the continuing quality upgrade of the occupying forces with the transfer of Leopard tanks from Turkey, the National Guard has focused on purchasing long-range and precision weapon systems.
According to Kathimerini, a specific guided missile system interests the National Guard.
This system can electronically trap the target from long distances, while the shot can be activated from the control centre.
It covers the needs of the Armed Forces since the capture of the target is not occasional.
Within this framework, the National Guard is also looking into acquiring the Nora Alexander TGS self-propelled weapon system.
Cyprus is looking at options to counter the threat posed by Turkey’s artillery, with sources saying the army is looking to buy weapons from Israel.
The Defence Ministry is also on the lookout for a weapons system to nullify Turkey’s drone threat.
Military command is viewing two weapon systems, a French system and one made by Israeli manufacturers.
Both are considered reliable and can enhance the existing anti-aircraft umbrella.
Cypriot officials have seen the Israeli anti-Drones system in action as they participated in a recent successful test run.
Kathimerini quoted military sources saying that Cyprus is already in negotiations to buy the said system.
Ankara’s deployment of drones to the island provides Turkey with a wider strike capability.
Earlier this year, two Turkey made Bayraktar TB2 drones were sent to the airbase in Lefkoniko, with Turkish officials saying they could be scrambled much faster than from bases on mainland Turkey to “inspect the region” up to the coast of Egypt.
With an operating range of 200 kilometres and a flight ceiling of 6,100 metres, the drones can carry weapons and surveillance equipment capable of delivering real-time images to Turkish naval ships.
Turkey is said to be upgrading the Bayraktar’s systems to be satellite-guided to extend their range even farther.