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Air Vice-Marshal (Ret) Gabriel Dimitriou | “In the past, F-35 were caught on radar by the Cypriot Air Defence”

Defence Redefined
Published on 17/11/2020 at 17:11

Of crucial importance, both for the Cypriot air defence and for the Israeli Air Force, is the exercise “ONISILOS-GEDEON” which takes place between November 17-19, 2020.

On the occasion of the exercise and the participation of the 5th generation F-35 STEALTH aircraft of the Israeli Air Force, DEFENCE ReDEFiNED contacted the former Commander of the National Guard’s Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal (Ret) Gavriel Dimitriou so as to discuss the significance of the exercise, but also the “successes” of the Cypriot air defence in previous exercises of this kind. 

Also read: “ONISILOS-GEDEON” | The exercise begins today with the participation of the Israeli Air Force

Mr. Dimitriou told us that the Cypriot radars are equal to those of other European countries. Regarding the “confrontation” of the Cypriot radars with STEALTH aircraft, the former Air Force Commander explained to us that they can be detected under certain conditions, i.e. in certain phases of maneuvers in which the aircraft can give great mass. “STEALTH technology is not completely invisible, it just reduces the reflective radar surface of the aircraft, something that is achieved by the shape, the paint but also the maneuvers of the aircraft. STEALTH is not invisible and this has been proved, they feature a reduced radar cross-section.

Mr. Dimitriou also told us that in previous exercises, F-35 were “caught on radar” by the Cypriot Air Force. These exercises, according to Mr. Dimitriou, are beneficial, because there is mutual participation. “The service is mutual and I conveyed this to the Chief of the Israeli Air Force. In other words, they (Israelis) are trained outside the confined space of Israel, gaining strategic depth, in an environment that resembles their hostile environment (Syria, Lebanon) and execute joint training with Russian-made surface to air missile systems.”

Also read: “Blue Wings 2020” | Israeli Air Force writes history on German soil – VIDEO 

Regarding the benefits that the Cypriot Air Force gains from the exercise and specifically the air-defence, Mr. Dimitriou explained to us that “we are trained with fighter jets which we do not have very often, after the termination of “TOXOTIS – NIKIFOROS” exercises, with the participation of fighter jets from Greece. We didn’t have this opportunity for a long time. When we started the “ONISILOS – GEDEON” exercises with Israel, the operators of our anti-aircraft weapons gained experience, that is the benefit. But in order to have a military-political benefit, you must also have an Air Force as well (i.e. fighter jets).”

Also read: Aeronautical Exercise “EUNOMIA” | The forces deployed in the sea and airspace of the Eastern Mediterranean – Photos & VIDEO

In any case, Mr. Dimitriou clarified that these exercises are not military alliances. “We cannot expect the Israeli Air Force or the French Rafale jets to rush in when we have a problem. Joint exercises provide a tactical benefit, but do not provide a strategic benefit. If we had our own Air Force (i.e. fighter jets) we could display a policy of ‘presence in the skies’ and safeguard our sovereign rights and not expect this from others.” 

Regarding the operational level of the anti-aircraft systems of the National Guard, mainly TOR M1 and BUK M1-2 and the information that these systems virtually “hit” Israeli fighters in previous exercises with great success, Mr. Dimitriou confirmed the information by saying that this occurred before STEALTH aircraft were used. “We have had several engagements, successful engagements and I mean engagements with virtual hits. Simply put, the targets became “KILLS” in the above mentioned systems’ command and control centers.” 

Also read: BUK M1-2 “The spearhead of the Cyprus Air Defence” | VIDEO

Asked to answer, if he knows whether the Air Force Command of the National Guard has learned lessons from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) against Armenian forces, Mr. Dimitriou commented that “lessons have been learned, I assume without knowing exactly, about the action of UCAVs and some thoughts are made about equipment (to confront them).” 

“My view on the issue of defence shielding is that the governments of Cyprus over time, with very minor exemptions, did not want the defence shielding of Cyprus and did not invest in the pillar “defence and security”, concluded the Air Vice-Marshal.

Also read: Turkish UAVs and the case of Cyprus | What the Defence Committee Chairman told DEFENCE ReDEFiNED 

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