For the first time after nearly two decades of speculations, Cyprus unveiled during the 1st October military parade, the BUK M1-2 SAM batteries that provide a strong Air Defense above the whole island. Two TELAR along with a command vehicle were spotted during the parade.
Initially Cyprus wanted to acquire two Hi-SAM S-300 PMU-1 batteries back in the mid 90s. Due to diplomatic pressure from Turkey (threatening even with pre-emptive strike before those SAMs reach Cyprus soil) and to avoid further military escalation, Greece and Cyprus agreed to transfer the S-300 batteries to the Crete island and in exchange Greece would repay in military equipment. The total amount of the deal reached 460 million Euros.
Within that deal, Cyprus covered diversified defense needs. A total of 12 self-propelled Zuzana 155mm guns acquired along with 6 Tor M1 SHORADS SAM and a few land-based Exocet MM40 Block 2 SSM Coastal defense batteries. Also as revealed the previous week the version of the BUK SAM batteries was the BUK M1-2. This can be noticed by the shorter in length canards of the 9M317 missile in comparison with the 9M38 missile. The 9M317 missile can only be used from the BUK M1-2 version and later on. This doesn’t exclude the fact that 9M38M1 missile can also be used maybe as a military surplus in case of long war.
It seems that the Snow Drift Mobile radar station was not present during the parade. Cyprus Ministry of Defense haven’t given any more details about the number of the systems or the specific analogy of the missiles (probably all of them would be 9M317). Typically a battery of Buk M1-2 include :
- One 9S18М1-1 Snow Drift/Tube Arm long range (140 km) Target Acquisition Radar Station
- A 9S470M1-2 command vehicle
- Up to six TELAR (each include Fire Dome PESA engagement radar and 4 missiles ready to launch) vehicles
- Three TEL (launchers with 4 missiles ready to launch and another 4 to reload), can be cued and guided by a nearby Fire Dome radar
There are some unconfirmed speculations and rumours that 2-3 full batteries are present on the island. The rest of the Cyprus Air Defenses consists of 12 Aspide 2000 launchers (RIM-7 version) along with 6 Tor M1 that are covering the 2 valuable MBT T-80U battalions.
Regardless of the exact quantity of the Cypriot SA-17 Buk, a detailed analysis of the system’s capabilities can be found in an article written by our blog 2 years ago. The article is written in Greek but for the English speakers, an icon based military simulation against a Turkish 44 aircraft strong COMAO air raid (keeping in mind the military balance also with Greece) can be seen in the end.
Some key features of the system are:
- Lethal range against fighter/attack aircraft is 42 km
- SARH guidance
- Minimum Target flying height is 15 meters and maximum 25 km
- Each TELAR can autonomously engage a target
- Each TEL can reload up to two TELAR, also it can get targeting data from a nearby TELAR and engage with 4 ready to launch missiles
- The Fire Dome engagement radar of its TELAR has a «hot» standby operation mode which allows it to start to become from no emissions to fully operational in 10-15 seconds
- Anti-missile capability, maximum 20 km against Harm or Ballistic (like Lance) missile, 26 km against cruise missile
- Anti-surface capability against Fast Patrol Crafts or frigates, range 25 km
- NCTR (Non cooperative target recognition) capability target recognition of a target by its unique RCS. This can help the SAM battery if the approaching target is an F-16, a training Aircraft, an F-4 Phantom or a cruise missile for example
- TVO day camera for passive engagement. Limited use against low flying helicopters
In conclusion, the presence of the BUK SAM batteries on Cyprus seems to be a great choice to counter legacy aircrafts like the turkish F-16 or F-4T Terminator. The capability to engage a vast range of air targets at medium range, would ensure the safety from incoming air strikes and PGMs, greatly enhancing defense capabilities of the Cyprus side.
PS: Below you can find a capture from the 1st October military parade in Cyprus