Cyprus unveiling new «secret» Air Defense Systems during the national military parade

cyprus buk

The medium range BUK missiles can deploy a protective umbrella even upon the Northern Turkish occupied sector of the island

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.


Comparison of 9M38M1, 9M317 and 9M317ME surface-to-air missiles of the Buk missile system


The missiles seem to have a light color paint.  This seems to match the rocky and dry surface of the island

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.

The initial 9M38 missile was the standard armament of the Buk basic and M1 version. Notice the larger length of the canards and the differences in size with the 9M317 missile that was presented in the Cypriot Buk M1-2

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.

Buk M1-2: O «Άγνωστος» εχθρός της Τουρκικής Πολεμικής Αεροπορίας (Click this link)

The hot stand by mode  of the Fire Dome radar enables the TELAR to remain silent and be able to become operational in 10-15 seconds. This can be lethal against incoming Strike Aircraft giving them very little time to react. In the picture a turkish F-4 Phantom got shot down during a pop-up while performing a Low-High-Low attack profile

Some key features of the system are:

  1. Lethal range against fighter/attack aircraft is 42 km
  2. SARH guidance
  3. Minimum Target flying height is 15 meters and maximum 25 km
  4. Each TELAR can autonomously engage a target
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. Anti-missile capability, maximum 20 km against Harm or Ballistic (like Lance) missile, 26 km against cruise missile
  8. Anti-surface capability against Fast Patrol Crafts or frigates, range 25 km
  9. 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
  10. TVO day camera for  passive engagement. Limited use against low flying helicopters

Due the possibility of oil and gas in the Southern area of Cyprus, tensions are running high between Cyprus and Turkey. The inimidating TurkCypriot flag in Penadaktylos mountain in the background of the image is  constant reminder of the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation

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





6 thoughts on “Cyprus unveiling new «secret» Air Defense Systems during the national military parade

  1. Based on the simulation and given the present conditions on the island there is air force, it appears that the number of the system is not sufficient. It should be at least double if not triple.

    Also based on new developments the standard for ready to fire missiles should be eight and not four and then the reload….

    The COMAO will not be one they could be four or five almost at the same time. Furthermore Turkey is introducing additional long range weapons in it’s inventory.

    Additionally what Great Britain will do from the bases is paramount as they can identify locate and pass coordinates to attacking Turkish forces.

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  2. @Thegnostos
    For reference reasons I mentioned in the linked scenario one large COMAO aircraft
    If you notice the participating aircrafts attacked Cyprus from three different directions.

    44xAircraft is not a small force. The BUK successfully managed to to the job shooting down a large number of the invading aircrafts. A total of 15 enemy aircraft or 35% of the enemy is a big casualty percentage in one mission

    As far as I know even if Buk M3 is available (6 missiles per Telar, 12 (!) per TEL), it is not yet purchased from the Cyprus National Guard.

    Also keep in mind that even if the eastern BUK-M1-2 batteries were out of missiles, a reload process to counter the second strike needs not more than a few minutes (not simulated) 😉

    Even if the TuAF used HARM, Popeye and SLAM-ER (best stand-off weapons in current inventory) they failed to do an serious damage on the Cyprus’s infrastructure

    A 12 aircraft force would have some sense if they were vastly superior to the Turkish counterparts (F-16). Considering that Cyprus doesn’t have the funds to purchase Eurofighter or Rafale it is a no go from my perspective

    PS You dont trust the British? Neither do I…

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  3. The Cyprus area ,with the known data of air defence system of Cyprus side ,make nececcary to use importam part of THK ,to destroyed,or de-avtivate them. Every f-16 can fly for 6 times in first day,(6 mission) maximum .To have 10 aircraft on the island ,you must to have available in south east airports (near the island) about 40 aircaft.If you calculate possiple losses (for example 15 airplane) gou must have 50 + airplane with 100 pilots ready for hi level war missions.This is 25% of total units OF THK and is possible with high probality to be an important factor for the final result in other war fields (Aegean Sea,)

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