Air Command of Cyprus
Διοίκηση Αεροπορίας Κύπρου (Greek)
Kıbrıs Hava Komutanlığı (Turkish)
Cyprus Air Force emblem
Founded1964
Country Cyprus
BranchAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size1,200 personnel
20 helicopters, 2 fixed wing aircraft, 4 unmanned aerial vehicles. On order: 4 helicopters + 4 UAVs
Part ofCypriot National Guard
Commanders
Current
commander
Βrigadier General Christou Christos
Insignia
Roundel
Fin flash

The Cyprus Air Command (Greek: Διοίκηση Αεροπορίας Κύπρου, Turkish: Kıbrıs Hava Komutanlığı), also known as the Cyprus Air Force or Cypriot Air Force, is the armed air wing of the National Guard. This force is equipped with attack and anti-tank helicopters, surface-to-air missile systems and integrated radar systems.

History

The history of Cypriot aviation began on 16 August 1960, after it won its independence from the United Kingdom, when an Air Wing was established on the island which. It was equipped with a small number of light aircraft and mainly performed search and rescue tasks (SAR), transport of the sick, control of fires and marine pollution as well as defense and police forces on the Cypriot coast and territory.

Until 1987, the aircraft of the Cypriot aviation still operated with brands civilians, as the usual military nature of the young air force had not yet developed. In the same year, 3 light helicopters Bell 206, 4 utility helicopters Aérospatiale Gazelle and 2 intermediate trainers Pilatus PC-9.

From this moment on, the Cypriot air force began to adopt for its aircraft a camouflage livery and nationality insignia with the national flag and the classic cockade that perfectly follows that of Greece, the nation with which it exists a strong bond, not only military.[1]

In July 2022, the Cypriot government announced that six Eurocopter EC145 helicopters would be procured from Airbus with an option for six more. These helicopters would cover the roles of reconnaissance and attack. They will be replacing the ageing Mil Mi-24 helicopters in service which are hard and costly to maintain. Turkish Cypriot authorities have called the helicopter purchase as a “provocation”. [2]

Organisation

The Cyprus Air Force consists of two aircraft squadrons.[3] Note that the aircraft of the Cyprus Police operate under a separate command-structure during peacetime.

Air Force bases and stations

The primary airbase of the Cyprus Air Force, this base adjacent to the Paphos International Airport has a runway, taxiway, hardened aircraft-shelters, and integrated command, control and communication facilities.
The reserve airbase of the Cyprus Air Force lay just south of the Cypriot capital of Nicosia. The base rarely hosted fixed-wing aircraft, and simply served as a staging-post for helicopters operating in and out of the Nicosia area.
The Troodos Mountains, the highest mountain range in Cyprus, hosts a number of radar and air-defense facilities. Their unit designations and deployment status are not made public.

Equipment

Aircraft

A Cyprian AW139 helicopter departs the USS Stout
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Transport
Embraer ERJ-135 Brazil transport / utility 1[5] donate by Greece
Helicopters
Bell 206 United States utility 206L 2[6]
Aérospatiale Gazelle France scout / patrol 342 4[7]
AgustaWestland AW139 Italy SAR / utility 3[7]
Airbus Helicopters H145 France / Germany SAR / utility H145M 6 on order[7]
Trainer Aircraft
Pilatus PC-9 Switzerland trainer / attack PC-9M 1[6]
A Tor-M1 surface to air missile system

Air Defense

Name Origin Type In service Notes
SAM
9K331 Tor-M1 Russia mobile SAM system 6[8]
Aspide Italy SAM system 130[8]
Oerlikon GDF Switzerland anti-aircraft 30[8] towed 35mm anti-aircraft gun

In 1998 two S-300 PMU1 systems were delivered, but then transferred to Hellenic Air Force that same year due to political considerations regarding the Cyprus Missile Crisis.

Aerial incidents between Cyprus and Turkey

Paphos Incident – 22 October 2000

On 22 October 2000, TOR-M1 air-defense batteries operated by the Cyprus National Guard at Papandreou Air Base tracked a pair of Turkish warplanes detected approaching the airbase by "locking-on" to them. By Jean Christou, Cyprus Mail, 7 April 2002. The action of engaging the Turkish aircraft with radar forced the warplanes to retreat from the area, as Greek Cypriot and Greek forces conducted joint military maneuvers in the Paphos region. The incident prompted an angry outburst from the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktaş, who was reported in the media to have condemned the radar lock-on as a provocation that could lead to war.[9]

Paphos Incident – 5 April 2002

It was variously reported in the Cyprus media that combat radars of the Cyprus National Guard, based at Papandreou Air Base in Paphos, had tracked two Turkish F-16 warplanes at 11am on 5 April 2002, by "locking-on" to them. The two Turkish aircraft were reported to have incurred into the Nicosia Flight Information Region and then passed directly over the Greek Cypriot airbase at an altitude of 3500 feet. Upon realizing that they were being tracked, the two Turkish aircraft turned back towards Turkey, and then returned to their airbase.

Cyprus EEZ - 18 August 2022

On 18 August 2022, Cypriot and Greek radars spotted a Turkish Navy ATR 72 whilst flying over Block 6 of the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus. According to media sources, the plane did a low pass at 4,500 feet, however a Cypriot official claimed that the plane did no such thing and remained at 29,000. [10]

See also

References

  1. ^ JP4 - Monthly of Aeronautica - n ° 8 year XXXIV - August 2005.
  2. ^ "Cyprus signs deal for Airbus attack helicopters". abcnews.go.com. ABC News. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  3. ^ "Cyprus Air Command". Aeroflight. 9 April 2016. Archived from the original on 7 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Cyprus Air Force". Aeroflight. Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Ευχαρίστησε τον Μητσοτάκη για την δωρεά του προεδρικού αεροσκάφους ο Αναστασιάδης". reporter.com.cy. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Cyprus Air Command". aeroflight.co.uk. 2023. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
  7. ^ a b c "World Air Forces 2023". Flight Global. Flightglobal Insight. 2023. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  8. ^ a b c Trade Registers. Armstrade.sipri.org. Retrieved on 14 December 2017.
  9. ^ Alex Efty (24 October 2000). "Denktash Warns of War Risk". The Independent. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Turkish 'spy plane' makes low pass over Cyprus' EEZ | Cyprus Mail".

Sources