Cyprus buys six H145Ms to replace Mi-35s to be sold to Serbia
Cyprus will purchase six armed H145M helicopters to replace the 11 Mi-35 attack helicopters decommissioned by the Cyprus Air Command at the end of 2021.
According to local press (politis.com.cy), a closed-door parliamentary meeting took place on June 20, during which the agreement was signed for the release of €53 million, to be paid as an advance payment.
The agreement with Airbus Helicopters is expected to be signed in the next few days. The total cost of the helicopters, including armament such as guns, rockets and guided missiles, will amount to €140 million, to be paid in installments until 2026.
The plan drawn up for a ten-year period consists of purchasing a total of 12 attack helicopters in two phases (6+6 H145M), as the Ministry of Defense’s intention is to sell its 11 Russian Mi-35 combat helicopters to Serbia.
One of the Cypriot Mi-35s, soon to operate in the Serbian Armed Forces. Photo courtesy: Cyprus Armed Forces.
Specifically, it was decided to initially acquire six helicopters over a five-year period, with the possibility of exercising an option for another six units. With the delivery of the new combat helicopters, the Russian Mi-35s will be handed over to the Serbian army.
The H145M was closely inspected by the Minister of Defense of Cyprus, Mr. Andreas P. Louka and members of the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense during the international military exhibition «EUROSATORY 2022», which took place from June 13-17 in Paris.
The purchase of the H145Ms are part of the bilateral defense cooperation program between the Cypriot National Guard and the French Armed Forces which includes, among other things, joint training and activities in both France and Cyprus.
The increasing cost of maintaining Russian material
One of the reasons that led to the deactivation and future sale of the Mi-35P to Serbia is the increasing cost of maintaining these aircraft in flying condition, a situation aggravated by the sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union after the invasion of Ukraine.
Serbia, on the other hand, not being a member of the EU, is not affected by the sanctions and maintains good relations with Moscow, so the repair and modernization of the Mi-35 should not be problematic.
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For the time being, the Cypriot Ministry of Defense will have to find a way to keep in operational readiness the Russian weapon systems available to the Armed Forces, such as the BMP-3 armored vehicles and the T-80 tanks, as well as the TOR-M1 and Buk-M1-2 self-propelled anti-aircraft missile systems, but as the budget allows, these materials will be replaced by others of Western origin, compatible with NATO standards.