Cyprus ready to give its T-80U MBTs to Ukraine only in exchange for Greek Leopard 2s

In the spring of 2022, the Americans requested the Cyprus Government to donate TOR-M1 and S-300 air defense missile systems, as well as T-80U main battle tanks, BMP-3 IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles) and Mi-35 attack helicopters. But Cyprus poses one condition, communicated by its foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides to Jens Plöttner, foreign and security advisor to German chancellor Olav Scholz: the quick reception of Leopard 2s in exchange for the donation of its T-80Us. No reply from Scholz to date.
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T-80U main battle tank of the Cyprus National Guard

The Cypriot government is convinced that a quick replacement of its T-80Us by Leopard 2s would be possible only if these Leopard 2s come from friendly Greece. Indeed, the Greek (Hellenic) army already operates 353 Leopard 2 MBTs: 183 Leopard 2A4GRs dating back to the 1980s but currently in the upgrading process to the Leopard 2A7 HEL standard, in addition to 170 Leopard 2A6 HEL.

But Greece wants first to get Leopard 2s in exchange to avoid depletion of its arsenal amid rising tensions with Turkey (also equipped with Leopard 2s in the waiting of its future indigenous Altay MBTs). No other supply solution is taken into consideration by Cyprus, as it would take too much time if to be supplied by Germany.

T-80U of the Cyprus National Guard

According to the Military Balance 2021, the Cyprus army has a total of 82 Soviet-made T-80U MBTs, an improved version of the T-80, equipped with a modernized turret, Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor, improved gun sight, and 9M119 Svir anti-tank missile system.

The main armament of the T-80U consists of a 125mm 2A46M-1 smoothbore gun with a thermal sleeve that can fire between 6 and 8 rounds per minute. The tank is fitted with an automatic loading system with 28 rounds ready to fire. A total of 45 shells are carried in the tank. The main gun can fire the 9M119 Refleks (NATO designation: AT-11 `Sniper') semi-automatic laser beam-riding missile out to a maximum range of 5,000 m. The secondary armament consists of a 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun, and a 12.7mm heavy machine gun mounted on the commander’s 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.