Britain has dispatched six RAF Typhoon jets to its base in Cyprus as part of a “contingency” plan to ensure the protection of interests amid heightened tensions over Syria, the Ministry of Defence said on Thursday.
The MoD said the jets are being dispatched to Akrotiri in Cyprus as a “prudent and precautionary measure”, adding that they are not being deployed to take part in a military strike against Syria.
“We can confirm that as part of ongoing contingency planning, six RAF Typhoon interceptor fast jets are deploying this morning to Akrotiri in Cyprus,” a ministry spokesman said.
“This is purely a prudent and precautionary measure to ensure the protection of UK interests and the defence of our sovereign base areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region,” he said.
“This is a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only. They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria,” the spokesman said.
The Typhoons have been sent out in a defensive counter air (DCA) role, the RAF said, and are fitted with advanced medium range air—to—air missiles (AMRAAM), advanced short range air-to-air missiles (ASRAAM), and a Mauser cannon for close combat.
Cyprus’s sovereign base areas reportedly provide a “strategic forward mounting base” in a region important to the UK’s long-term national security interests.
There are around 2,500 military and UK civilian personnel serving on the bases, along with around 3,000 family members and dependants.
Two infantry battalions serve there, one provides security to UK defence assets and the other is a high-readiness reserve force for operations.