US asks Cyprus to transfer T-80U tanks BMP-3 IFVs S-300 and Tor-M1 air defense missiles to Ukraine
According to information published by the "Ekathimerini" website on April 4, 2022, the United States has asked Cyprus government if it would be possible to transfer Russian-made weapons and combat vehicles in services with the Cyprus armed forces including TOR-M1 and S-300 air defense missile systems, T-80U main battle tank, BMP-3 tracked armored IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and Mi-35 attack helicopter.
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US has requested Cyprus to deliver T-80U tanks, BMP-3 IFVs, S-300 and TOR-M1 air defense missile systems, and Mi-35P helicopters for its military arsenal to Ukraine.
On April 4, 2022, Army Recognition reported that the U.S. administration will work with allies to transfer Soviet-made tanks to bolster Ukrainian defenses in the country’s eastern Donbas region, a U.S. official said on April 1, echoed by Helen Cooper in The New York Times.
At the same time, Germany has approved the transfer of 58 Pbv 501 tracked armored IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine. The Pbv 501 is a Swedish upgrade of ex-East German Army BMP-1 IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) that were delivered to Sweden from 1998 to 2001.
Kathimerini’s sources stated that the Americans has requested the Cyprus Government to donate TOR-M1 and S-300 air defense missile system as well as T-80U main battle tanks, BMP-3 tracked armored IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles) and Mi-35 attack helicopters.
Citing the Kathimerini, the request from U.S. was received positively by President Nicos Anastasiades who gave the go-ahead for further discussions to be done quickly.
According to the Military Balance 2021, the Cyprus army has a total of 82 Soviet-made T-80U MBTs (Main Battle Tanks), 43 BMP-3 tracked armored IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles), six 9K331 TOR-M1 (NATO code designation SA-15 Gauntlet), 11 Mi-35P Hind-E. Cyprus was equipped with Soviet-made S-300 PMU1 that were transferred to Greece after the Cyprus Missile Crisis.
The Cypriot S-300 crisis was a tense and rapidly escalating political standoff between the Republic of Cyprus and the Republic of Turkey between early 1997 and late 1998. The confrontation was sparked by Cypriot plans to install two Russian-made S-300 air defense missile sites on their territory, provoking Turkey into threatening an attack or even all-out war if the missiles were not returned to Russia.
TOR-M1 air defense missile system of the Cyprus National Guard
The TOR-M1 9A331-1 (NATO code: SA-15 Gauntlet) surface-to-air missile system is a mobile, integrated air defense system designed and manufactured by The Russian Defence Industry.
The TOR-M1 is based on a tracked armored vehicle equipped with a turret fitted with a top-mounted target acquisition radar, frontal tracking radar, and 8 ready-to-fire 9M330 or 9M331 missiles stored vertically between the two radars. The missile of the TOR-M1 is able to engage aerial targets at a firing range from 100m to 12 km and altitudes from 10 to 6,000 m.
BMP-3 tracked armored IFV Infantry Fighting Vehicle of the Cyprus National Guard
The BMP-3 is a Russian-made tracked amphibious infantry fighting vehicle, a successor to the BMP-1 and BMP-2, which entered service with the Soviet army in 1990. The main armament of the BMP-3 consists of one 100mm 2A70 semi-automatic rifled gun/missile launcher, which is stabilized in two axes and can fire either 3UOF HE-FRAG rounds or 3UBK10 anti-tank guided missiles.
The BMP-3 has a crew of three including a commander, gunner, and driver. A total of seven infantrymen can be carried, one on either side of the driver with the remainder being seated to the sides and rear of the turret.
T-80U main battle tank of the Cyprus National Guard
The T-80U is an improved version of the Soviet-made T-80 MBT (Main Battle Tank) equipped with a modernized turret, Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor, improved gun sight, and 9M119 Svir missile system.
The main armament of the T-80U consists of one a 125mm 2A46M-1 automatic smoothbore gun with a thermal sleeve, which can fire between 6 and 8 rounds per minute. The tank is equipped is fitted with an automatic loading system with 28 rounds ready to fire. A total of 45 rounds of 125mm caliber are carried into the tank. The main gun can fire the 9M119 Refleks (US/NATO designation AT-11 `Sniper') semi-automatic laser beam-riding missile out to a maximum range of 5,000 m.
The second armament includes one 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun, and one 12.7mm heavy machine gun mounted on the commander hatch.
The T-80U is fitted with the Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor providing protection against both APFSDS and HEAT attacks over the frontal arc.
S-300 PMU1 TEL Transporter Erector Launcher Unit of Hellenic army
The S-300 PMU1 is a Soviet-made long-range air defense missile system able to destroy aerial targets like cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles. It is an evolution of the previous version of the S-300 series.
In addition to the 5V55R, 48N6E and 48N6E2 missiles the S-300PMU-1 can launch two new missiles, the 9M96E1 and 9M96E2. Both are significantly smaller than the previous missiles at 330 and 420 kg and carry smaller 24 kg warheads. The 9M96E1 has an engagement range of 1–40 km and the 9M96E2 of 1-120 km.
Mi-35P attack helicopter of the Cyprus National Guard
The Mi-35P is the export version of the Soviet-made Mi-24P (Nato Designation Hind-F) attack helicopter. The new improvements of the Mi-35P include new guided weapons, targeting systems, and digital automatic flight controls. It can be armed with a twin-barreled 23mm cannon, S-8 and S-13 rockets, and guided or unguided missiles.
The Mi-35P has a crew of three and can also carry up to eight troops. It can fly at a maximum speed of 335 km/h. Its operational altitude is 4,900 m. The helicopter has a normal range of 450 km and can reach a maximum distance of 1,000 km with a full fuel load.