Cuban Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force

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Cuban Revolutionary Air Force
Roundel of Cuba.svg
Cuban Air Force roundel
Active 1960–present
Country  Cuba
Branch Air Force
Part of Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces
Former roundels

Roundel of Cuba (1959-1962).svg

Roundel of Cuba (1955-1959).svg
Aircraft flown
Attack L-39, Mi-24
Fighter MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-29
Trainer L-39
Transport Mi-8, Mi-17, An-24
Cuban MiG-21MF from the 1970s

The Cuban Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force (Spanish: Defensa Anti-Aérea Y Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria) commonly abbreviated to DAAFAR in both Spanish and English, is the air force of Cuba.


In the 1980s, Cuba with the help of the Soviet Union was able to project power abroad, using its air force, especially in Africa. During that time Cuba sent jet fighters and transports for deployment in conflict zones such as Angola and Ethiopia.

In 1990, Cuba's Air Force was the best equipped in Latin America. In all, the modern Cuban Air Force imported approximately 230 fixed-wing aircraft. Although there is no exact figure available, Western analysts estimate that at least 130 (with only 25 operational[1]) of these planes are still in service spread out among the thirteen military airbases on the island.

In 1996, fighters from the DAAFAR shot down two Cessna aircraft based in Florida which were incorrectly suspected of dropping leaflets into Cuban airspace. The air force was criticized for not giving the pilots of the aircraft options other than being shot down. One aircraft escaped.[2]

In 1998, according to the same DIA report mentioned above, the air force had 'fewer than 24 operational MIG fighters; pilot training barely adequate to maintain proficiency; a declining number of fighter sorties, surface-to-air missiles and air-defense artillery to respond to attacking air forces.[3]

By 2007 the International Institute for Strategic Studies assessed the force as 8,000 strong with 41 combat capable aircraft and a further 188 stored. DAAFAR is known now to have integrated another Mig-29 and a few MiG-23s which makes it 58 combat aircraft in active service which are listed as 6 MiG-29s, 40 MiG-23s, and 12 MiG-21s. There were also assessed to be 12 operational transport aircraft plus trainers which include 8 L-39C and helicopters which are mainly Mil Mi-8, Mil Mi-17 and Mil Mi-24 Hind. Raúl Castro ordered in 2010 that all MiG-29 pilots had to have full training, they now have from 200–250 hours of flight annually together with real dogfight training and exercises. Up to 20 MiG-23 units also have this kind of training but the other 16 MiG-23 units spend more time in simulators than real flight. MiG-21 units have limited time in this exercises and spend more time in simulators and maintain their skills flying with the commercial brand of the air force Aerogaviota.

At San Antonio de los Baños military air field, south west of Havana, several aircraft are visible using Google Earth.[4]


Current inventory[edit]

A left side view of a Cuban MIG-21 fighter aircraft inside VF-45 hangar.
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-21 Russia, former Soviet Union fighter 12[5]
MiG-23 Russia, former Soviet Union fighter 24[5]
MiG-29 Russia, former Soviet Union multirole 3[5]
Antonov An-26 Ukraine, former Soviet Union transport 2[5]
Mil Mi-8 Russia, former Soviet Union utility Mi-8/17 10[5]
Mil Mi-24 Russia, former Soviet Union attack Mi-35 4[5]
Trainer Aircraft
Aero L-39 Czechoslovakia jet trainer 25[5]


Former aircraft include MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19, B-25 Mitchell, Hawker Sea Fury and the P-51 Mustang.

Air Bases[edit]

  • San Julián Air Base
    • 23 Regimiento de Caza operating - Mig-23ML
  • San Antonio de los Baños Airfield
    • 2661 Squadron - MiG-29, MiG-23ML
    • 5010 Intercept Squadron - MiG-21BIS and MiG-21UM
  • La Coloma Airport
    • 1660th Primary Training Squadron - L-39C
  • Santa Clara Air Base
    • Tactical Air Command – MiG-23 and MiG-23UB
    • 2661st Bomber Squadron
    • 1890th Interceptor Regiment – MiG-21B and Mig-21UM
    • helicopter squadron - Mi-17
  • Cienfuegos Air Base
    • 3684 Helicopter Regiment - Mi-8TB, Mi-24D and Mi-35
  • Holguín Air Base
    • transport squadron - Mil Mi-17
    • 3710th Interceptor Squadron and Training
  • Santiago de Cuba Base
    • 35th Transport Regiment - An-2 and An-26
    • 36th Helicopter Regiment - Mi-8 and Mi-24
  • Playa Baracoa Airbase
    • 3710th Interceptor Squadron and Training
    • 3688 Transport Regiment - An-26
    • 3405 Executive Transport Squadron - Yak-40 VIP, An-26M, Mi-8P and Mi-8TB
    • 3404 Transport Squadron - An-2


  1. ^ Cuban Armed Forces Review: Air Force
  2. ^ Sections 3.18, 3.19 and 3.20 of the Resolution on the Cuban Government's Shootdown of Brothers to the Rescue Adopted by the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at the Twentieth Meeting of its 148th Session on 27 June 1996 [1]
  3. ^ Jane's Defence Weekly, 13 May 1998
  4. ^,-82.506809&spn=0.004557,0.006899&t=h&z=17 Google Earth imagery of San Antonio de los Banos airfield
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 14". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2015.