French Air Force resumed its flights over Cyprus airspace on Tuesday. The French delegation participates in a week-long military drill taken in Cyprus Flight Information Region (FIR) and territorial waters. The Nicosia FIR hosted yesterday the flight of French Rafale jets on a three-day aeronautical drill which is expected to continue on Wednesday. The military drill is seen as a manifestation of the close cooperation between Cyprus and France in the security dimension.
Cyprus Ministry of Defence issued a public statement announcing the conduct of sea-based drills from French helicopters and Rafale aircrafts. Similarly, the French Embassy in Nicosia also twitted an announcement about the military drill in social media. The French delegation will partake in exercises taking place over the airspace of Paphos and Chrysochouscities on Wednesday. In previous days, French aircrafts operated mainly in the eastern part of the island, on the airspace of Larnaca and Famagustacities. French aircrafts embark on their military drills from the renowned Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier, which currently sails in Cyprus territorial waters.
Development of MMP Missile Defence System
On the ground, defence cooperation between Nicosia and Paris ensues with the development of fifth-generation man-portable land-combat missile system known as Missile Moyenne Portee (MMP). The system is on development stage by the European missile consortium MBDA, headquartered in Britain, and operates under the auspices of E.U.’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). PESCO is the new defence cooperation framework institutionalised by E.U. member states in December 2017.
The MMP initiative is jointly developed by military delegations of Belgium, Cyprus and France and ratified by the PESCO framework on 19 November 2018. The MMP system represents one of the leading weapons utilised in Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) battlefield engagement, able to direct heat-driven missiles from land to air-based and land targets.