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Aviacion Cubana

The Cuban Air Force Today. Material and pespectives

Ruben Urribarres

FAR In the XX century the Cuban Air Force received some 1,100 aircrafts, of them some 440 until 1958 and 660 after 1959.

In 1990 were in service some 430 aircraft, of them 140 MiG-21bis and MiG-21MF in 5 Regiments, besides some 15 MiG-21UM Mongol B of training.  In service are besides 79 MiG-23 of the versions MF, ML, BN and UB, in 3 Regiments and two Squadrons (one MiG-23UB in each Squadron). The MiG-29 are the last combat aircraft received by the FAR, and are the best of Latin America in close combat.  FAR attack helicopter Mil Mi-24 Hind

The majority of these equipment are in normal state, but due to the serious lack of replacement pieces a part are found in conservation, for economice their stocks of pieces and the engine resource, that are received in  very limited quantities since 1990. By this cause in West is supposed, that of its almost 226 combat aircraft, operates only some 130. The quantity of aircraft in the table below, are approximate. 
Combat Aircraft -226Transports -60Training -70Helicopters -70
12 MiG-29 
21 MiG-23MF 
39 MiG-23BN 
14 MiG-23ML 
84 MiG-21bis 
36 MiG-21MF
  4 Yak-40 
  2 An-32 
20 An-26 
  3 An-24 
30 An-2
  2 MiG-29UB 
  5 MiG-23UB 
15 MiG-21US/UM 
25 L-39C 
20 Z-326
  2 Mi-2 
40 Mi-8 
16 Mi-17 
15 Mi-24


Air to air: R-13 (AA-2 Atoll), R-24R/T (AA-7 Apex), R-60M (AA-8 Aphid), R-27 (AA-10 Alamo). Air to surface: X-23 (AS-7 Kerry)
R-27 (AA-10 Alamo)

  Aviation of others corps

Zlin Z-142 border guardsThe Revolutionary Navy uses helicopters Mi-14 and Ka-28 in antisubmarine warfare and SAR. The Ministry of the Interior (MININT) is a independent of the FAR corp, to the one that belong the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) and the Border Guard Troops (TG). The PNR have helicopters Mi-2 for the interior order, and the TG with Czech airplanes Z-142 for coasts patrol. 
Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria (MGR)Policía Nacional Revolucionaria (PNR)Tropas Guardafronteras (TG)
14 Mil Mi-14PL Haze-A 
  4 Kamov Ka-28
6 PZL Mil Mi-2 Hoplite10 Zlin Z-142

  Civil Aviation 

Heavy transport Il-76MD of Cubana. Courtesy of Andy MartinThe civil airplanes of Cubana de Aviación, Aerogaviota, Aerocaribean, Aerotaxi, are reserve of the FAR, can be employees in case of need. For example, like the heavy transport Il-76 or the photo reconnaisance An-30. These enterprices have businesses some 175 aircrafts: 
 Cubana de Aviación Aerogaviota Aerocaribbean Aerotaxi
10 Antonov An-24RV
20 Antonov An-26
  2 Airbus A320 (TACA 
  9 Ilyushin Il-62M
  2 Ilyushin Il-76MD
  4 Tupolev Tu-154M
  6 Yakovlev Yak-40
  3 Yakovlev Yak-42D
  3 Douglas DC-10-30
  5 Mil Mi-8
  3 ATR-42-300
  1 ATR-72
15 Mil Mi-8
  1 Antonov An-2
21 Antonov An-26
  1 Antonov An-30
  4 Yakovlev Yak-40
 1 Antonov An-24
 3 Antonov An-26
 3 ATR-42-300
 1 ATR-72
 1 Ilyushin Il-14
 3 Ilyushin Il-18
 3 Yakovlev Yak-40
 41 Antonov An-2
   4 Douglas DC-3
   5 Mil Mi-8

  Air Bases

San Antonio de los Baños, San Julián, Ciudad Libertad, Baracoa, Mariel, Guines, Varadero 
Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus 
Santiago de Cuba, Holguín, Camaguey
Air Bases (picture of Air Power Journal)
Air bases. Picture from the Air Power Journal
The total of airports in Cuba are 181 (with paved runways: 144, at the 1998), from this:
from 3,660 m or more: 3from 3,047 to 3,660 m: 7from 2,438 to 3,660 m: 12
from 1,524 to 2,437 m: 14from    914 to 1,523 m: 11;from    914 m or less: 36.

  Air Defence

The DAAFAR has 4 Brigades with 28 Battalions of S-125 and S-75 missiles, that defending cities, air bases, and other objectives. The Army have an important quantity of anti aircraft artillery. These troops shoot down various aircrafts during the combats by Bay of Pigs, and in Angola, where they efficiently defending the ground troops from the enemy attacks. During the Missiles Crisis of October of 1962, the missiles S-75 shoot down over Cuba an USAF spy plane Lockheed U-2.
9K33 Osa (SA-8 Gecko)
Surface to air MissilesArmy Anti Aircraft Artillery
144 S-75 Dvina (SA-2 Guideline) 
  48 S-125 Neva (SA-3 Goa) 
  12 9M9 Kvadrat (SA-6 Gainful) 
    ? 9K33 Osa (SA-8 Gecko) 
  60 S-1M Strela-1 (SA-9 Gaskin) 
  40 9K35 Strela-10 (SA-13 Gopher) 
    ? 9M32 Strela-2 (SA-7 Grail) 
    ? 9K34 Strela-3 (SA-14 Gremlin)
    ? ZPU-1,-2,-4  (1x, 2x, 4x 14,5mm) 
400 ZU-23-2  (2 x 23mm) 
100 M53  (2 x 30mm, some in a BTR-60P) 
300 M1939  (37mm) 
200 S-60  (57mm) 
100 KS-12  (85mm) 
  75 KS-19  (100mm) 
Self propelled gun:
  36 ZSU-23-4 Shilka  (4 x 23) 
  25 SU-57-2  (2 x 57mm)


The disappearance of the USSR and the cut of their military aid, obliged to the FAR to save their resources.  Since 1990 Cuba does not receive new combat aircrafts and the purchases of replacement pieces have been reduced. In better state are the MiG-29 and the MiG-23, as opposedded to the MiG-21. Being the FAR the Air Force with more combat aircrafts of Latin America, its great volume does not correspond to the present real needs and to the new political situation. Because this part of the equipment are in conservation, which signifies a great savings of resources. According to the Army General Raúl Castro, the Air Force consumed three times more resources than the Army. He has intensified considerably the training in simulators and the repairs with national resources. For this have been opened in the last times new facilities. Their men, with hundreds of pilots that have real combat experience, many with thousands of flght hours and dozens of real combat missions, are their more expensive fund. Today already have been signed agreements of collaboration with Russia, for the delivery of replacement pieces and the modernization of the combat aircraft. The FAR continues being potentially one of the modern and strongest Air Force of the American continent, after the USAF. 
I part:
  Summary  Organization  Training

  See also:
Cuban MiG-15
Cuban MiG-17
Cuban MiG-19
Cuban MiG-21
Cuban MiG-21 in action
Operación Pico: Cuban MiG-21 over Dominican Republic
Cuban MiG-17 and MiG-21 in the Ogaden War (Ethiopia)
Cuban MiG-23
Cuban MiG-23 in action (air-to-ground missions in Angola)
Cuban MiG-23 in action (air-to-air missions in Angola)
Cuban MiG-29

  External Links:
Cuban Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum
Cuban MiGs
Cuban Military Forum
The MiG-29 Fighter
Cuban MiG-23 over Venezuela
Cuba in Africa, The Angola War

Foro Militar General

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