UK signs defence MoU with Cyprus, deploys F-35s for first time

Hemanth Kumar and Talal Husseini 8 April 2019 (Last Updated April 8th, 2019 14:36)

The UK has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Cyprus to enhance defence and security co-operation between the two countries.

UK signs defence MoU with Cyprus, deploys F-35s for first time
A new UK defence partnership has been reached with Cyprus to enhance defence and security co-operation, including the first F-35 jet deployment this year. Credit: Praca własna.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has signed a new defence partnership with Cyprus, under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will enhance defence and security co-operation between the two countries.

The MoU for the new UK defence partnership was signed during a meeting in London between Cypriot Defence Minister Savvas Angelides and UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Williamson said: “Cyprus is a valued partner and friend, and through signing this agreement we have reinforced our already close ties across defence for years to come.

“Our bases in Cyprus are a vital asset in our fight against Daesh with Typhoon and Tornado fighter jets that were instrumental in the territorial defeat of the terrorist group in Syria flying out of RAF Akrotiri.”

The MoU will cover shared interests in areas such as training, capability development and crisis planning.

The nations also expect the agreement to provide new opportunities for multilateral security training with regional partners.

The UK values its air force bases in Cyprus as strategic to target ISIS. The Sovereign Base Area in Cyprus allows the UK and its allies to act swiftly in region whenever the need arises.

F-35 deployment later this year

The UK MOD has also announced that the F-35B Lightning, its most advanced fighter aircraft to date, will be deployed to RAF Akrotiri later this year.

Royal Navy first sea lord and chief of naval staff Admiral Sir Philip Jones said: “This first overseas deployment of these world-beating British F-35B aircraft to RAF Akrotiri, together with their embarkation in HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time in the Autumn of this year, are important milestones to prove their readiness for deployed operations anywhere in the world in defence of our national interests.”

“This deployment marks an important milestone in this game-changing aircraft’s journey to becoming fully operational.”

The deployment will give personnel from the RAF and the Royal Navy the opportunity to maintain and fly the F-35s over unfamiliar territory. It will also test the RAF’s ability to move this aircraft to a new location, including support roles such as logistics, maintenance, and sustainment of all crew and equipment.

Williamson added: “These formidable fighters are a national statement of our intent to protect ourselves and our allies from intensifying threats across the world.

“This deployment marks an important milestone in this game-changing aircraft’s journey to becoming fully operational.”