Cyprus Air Force
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Cyprus
Air Force


Current Title: Kypriaki Stratiotiki Aeroporia
Title in English: Cyprus Air Force
Abbreviation: KSA

History

Narrative Summary:
The Cyprus National Guard first formed an organised military Air Wing on the 16th August 1960, shortly after the island gained its independence from Britain to become the Republic of Cyprus. This force was equipped with a small number of light aircraft, and shared a joint command with the air-defence forces of the island and the Police.

In 1963 the Aeroporiki Diikissi Kyprou ADK (Cyprus Air Command) was formed with its headquarters in Nicosia, and two squadrons under its command - the 419 MPA (Mira Prostasias Aerodromiou = Air Base Protection Squadron) and 420 MPA at Lakatamia AFB and Tymbou AFB bases respectively. In 1964, and then again, in 1966, two radar squadrons - 3 MSEP and 4 MSEP were also created (MSEP = (MSEP=Mira Stathmou Elenchou Proidopiisis / Warning and Control Station Squadron), bringing the pre-1974 order of battle to include 4 active squadrons. In 1968 the Police and ADK separated their activities and only two aircraft remained under ADK command: a Beechcraft C-45 (D-6) and, reportedly**, a L-21B Super Cub (D-7).

In 1974, the island was plunged into crisis when Turkey invaded the north of Cyprus after a failed Greek-inspired coup of the Republic Government and attempt to militarily overthrow Archbishop Makarios, the state leader. With the island's security forces divided by loyalties and contradicting orders, the small air forces of the island remained grounded as Turkish forces invaded the island. The air-defence forces, however, were actively involved in combat action during the invasion, with a substantial number of towed and fixed anti-aircraft guns and a few radars involved in fighting the Turkish Air Force.

The Turkish Air Force suffered only minor losses in its support of the invasion, with a reported 12 aircraft being downed (2 confirmed to friendly fire, one a confirmed kill (F-100) while the majority of the rest remain unclaimed as possible accidents). The Cypriot forces themselves suffered catastrophic friendly-fire, with the accidental downing of a Greek Nortalas transport plane plus the destruction of a further 2 more on the ground by antiaircraft guns defending Nicosia International Airport.

After 1974, the ADK was renamed as Diikissi Aeroporias DA (Air Force Command).

In the mid-1980's, the Cyprus Government ordered the refurbishment, upgrading and enlargement of the armed forces to fend of a perceived future threat of further invasion by Turkey into southern Cyprus, through the self-proclaimed "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" with Turkish occupation forces.

The Air Wing received some minor procurements in the form of Gazelle anti-tank helicopters, Bell-206 Long Rangers and Pilatus patrol aircraft over the course of a few years, while the older aircraft in the inventory, including a C-45 Beechcraft, Piper PA-22's and Dornier Do-27's, were phased out.

In 1996, the Air Wing was reformed into the Cyprus Air Force / Kypriaki Stratoitiki Aeroporia.

** No evidence of a Cypriot L-21 has been established so far.

Key Dates:
16 August 1960    Cyprus National Guard Air Wing formed
1963    Cyprus Air Command (ADK) formed
1968    Cyprus Police separate from ADK
1974    CNGAW disbanded after Turkish invasion
1982    CNGAW re-established and new aircraft ordered
1996    CNGAW renamed Cyprus Air Force
May 2002    Single Aircraft & Helicopter Squadron split into two Squadrons

Current Status:
The Cyprus Air Force currently has two main air bases on the island, including Papandreou AFB in Paphos, and Lakatamia AFB in Nicosia district. The military forces also use both Paphos and Larnaca International Airports on a regular basis. Larnaca is the main headquarters of the Police Air Wing, which shares joint command with the Air Force.

In recent years, the inventory of the Cyprus Air Force has expanded and modernised dramatically, driven politically by the ever increasing requirement of equipment to provide protection from modern Turkey and its occupation forces.

Main KSA roles are patrol, communications, police support, firefighting, search and rescue, coastguard activities and casualty evacuation. Its operations are restricted to the Southern Greek-Cypriot area of the island. Cyprus became responsible for carrying out SAR duties in the area in March 2002.

The 2 Bell UH-1Hs leased from the Greek Army have been grounded under major threats of sanctions by the US, and they may be returned soon. Russian media suggests that the Cyprus Government is looking at the Kamov Ka-60 Kasatka as an alternative, or the Ka-32/29 Helix as considered before.

Future Plans:
In late 2001, a $22 million US dollar motion to procure 4 Bell-412EP medium-transport helicopters was vetoed by the Cypriot House of Representatives. Existing political tensions between the two leading parties, DISY and AKEL, further exacerbated by a standing US embargo on arms to Cyprus, forced the purchase to be abandoned.
At the end of the year, the program was reported to have been reinstated, though other reports now suggest that this plan has been succeeded by a discrete purchase of 3 larger Mil Mi-17 Hip transport helicopters.
The new transport helicopters will serve the Cypriot Rapid Reaction Forces, and will likely operate from primary army bases rather than Air Force installations, thus allowing faster reaction time.

Markings

National Insignia:
Current --- Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):
1960-1974
The first CNGAW aircraft carried serial numbers prefixed by the letters 'CR' (Cyprus Republic). The prefix 'D' was reportedly used for a short time after 1968:
CR1 AB.47J CR2 AB.47J CR3 Do 27Q CR4 ?
CR5 ? D6 Beech C-45 D7 Piper L-21B CR8 Piper Colt

1982-Present
When the CNGAW was reformed in 1982, the aircraft operated with civil registrations eg: 5B-ICV for the Maritime Defender. With the delivery of the Gazelles in 1988, a new military serialling system was introduced. This comprised a three-digit serial number, where the first digit indicates the aircraft type and last two digits identify the individual airframe, eg: 901 for a PC-9.

Unit/Base Aircraft Code System(s):
Coding system not used

Aircraft

Aircraft Designation System(s):
None - Manufacturers designations used.

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:
Alphabetical Order --- Chronological Order

Aircraft NOT Used:
False reports of aircraft on order or in service

Organisation

Main Headquarters:
Nicosia?

Current Organisational Structure:
The flying element of the Cyprus Air Force currently comprise two squadrons, located at two different air bases.

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle:
1970
1987
1990

All-Time Flying Units List:
Mira Aeroskafon
Mira Elikopteron-Aeroskafon
449 Mira Antiarmatikon Elikopteron
450 Mira Elikopteron

Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
Air bases currently used are Paphos and Lakatamia. The airfield at Paphos is equipped with hardened aircraft shelters and hosts occasional visits from Greek AF F-16s.

All-Time Air Bases Used List:
In addition to the bases currently used by the KSA, a number of airports and airfields around the country have been used by other Air Forces.
Cyprus Air Bases Listing

More Information

Books:

Aerospace Encyclopedia of World Air Forces (Aerospace, 1999) p.170

Magazines:

World Air Power Journal No.5 p.142
Air Fan October 1995
Air Forces Monthly August 1996
Air Forces Monthly October 2003
Cockpit (Stragiki AE)

Websites:

Official Cyprus Army Website
Typos.com.cy - The Online Newspaper of Cyprus


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First Created: 21 December 2003 - Last Revised: 12 September 2005
Copyright 2003 John Hayles.    e-mail: john@aeroflight.co.uk