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April 5, 2021 1:54 pm

Israel and Cyprus Kick Off Two-Day ‘Onisilos-Gideon’ Military Air Defense Drill

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

An Israeli F-35 aircraft is seen on a runway during ‘Blue Flag,’ an aerial exercise hosted by Israel with the participation of foreign air force crews, at the Ovda military air base, southern Israel, Nov. 11, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen / File.

Israel and Cyprus have started a two-day air defense exercise in Cyprus to test the island’s military capacity during air defense operations.

The exercise named “Onisilos-Gideon 2021,” which was launched on Monday, is part of the annual military cooperation program between the armed forces of the Cyprus Republic and Israel, according to a press release by the Cyprus Defense Ministry.

The Cyprus National Guard Air Force Command and the Israeli Air Force will train staff on the tactics and procedures for air force deployment, weapons control, and air defense system tracking. The exercise will include land and airspace maneuvers involving drills of anti-aircraft units at regular arms control processes and information transfer, training of air defense auditors in liability coverage area procedures, and disclosure-clarification tracks and regular inspection of aircraft.

The drill is part of a bilateral military cooperation program for 2021 between the two countries. In November 2020, the defense ministers of Israel, Cyprus and Greece met in Nicosia and agreed on a trilateral cooperation to boost defense mechanisms in order to promote stability and security in the region and to jointly address challenges and threats. The three countries are seeking partnerships in the areas of defense industry, research and technology and cyber defense. They already conduct frequent joint military exercises including air, naval and ground forces drills.

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According to a March 29 report by Israel Hayom, Israel plans to hold a large-scale military exercise in Cyprus in the summer, which would mark the first extraterritorial drill by the Israeli army. The week-long exercise will involve IDF commandos and special forces, air force and navy troops, and regular and reserves forces with the military’s Depth Corps, which coordinates the IDF’s long-range missions and operations deep behind enemy lines.

The drill will be part of the “war month” — a four-week exercise for the simulation of prolonged battle conditions to accelerate the military’s wartime readiness.

The maneuvers will include multiple battle scenarios pertaining to the northern sector, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in accordance with the IDF’s most severe contingencies. The Cyprus drill will be conducted during the last week of the exercise when the troops will simulate combat in unfamiliar territory.

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