With the confrontation between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta assumes a much greater strategic significance.
SV RAF Britannia aircraft takes off
CU Argosy aircraft taxiing.
SV Argosy taking off.
SV RAF Comet taxiing (2 shots)
SV PAN Argosy and Britannia on tarmac.
MV Charter aircraft takes off.
LV PAN two Vulcan bombers.
MV & CU RAF Britannia taxiing (2 shots).
SV Military personnel boarding aircraft.
MV RAF Hercules taxiing.
CU RAF officers talking.
CU RAF Comet taxiing.
SV Comet on runway PAN TO RAF personnel
SV RAF Helicopter airborne.
SV Comet taxiing
CU RAF officer talking to civilian
LV RAF Comet taking off.
Initials AE/18.23 AE/1851
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Background: With the confrontation between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta assumes a much greater strategic significance.
Britain has more than 2000 military men on the island, which is also the Mediterranean naval headquarters for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. NATO operates from the harbour at Valetta, the island's capital.
Britain's Royal Air Force operates airfields at Ta'Qali and Hal Far, and also uses the civil airport at Luqa, where it operates flight control facilities. The RAF contingent is comprised mainly of Nimrods and Canberra jets. However, Comet, Britannia, Hercules, Vulcan and Argosy aircraft have been operating from the island in recent days.
Malta and the RAF played important roles in the flight of the deposed Cypriot President, Archbishop Makarios on Tuesday (16 July). The Archbishop escaped from the beleaguered town of Paphos and was flown by RAF helicopter to the British base at Akrotiri. From there, the RAF flew him to Malta, where he landed at the Luqa airport and was offered temporary sanctuary by the Government of Malta.
Malta could play an important role in the evacuation of British servicemen from Cyprus.
On Saturday (21 July) the 16,000 servicemen and their families based in Cyprus were standing by ready to evacuate. In addition, there was an elaborate operation to evacuate British and foreign nationals from the battered capital, Nicosia. The group was driven in a convoy of trucks and cars, guarded by armoured vehicles from Nicosia to the British base at Dhekelia.