Warplanes: April 26, 2001


The Cuban air force is about to be rescued from extinction. In the ten years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, over ten thousand warplanes produced by the Soviet Union have steadily turned into junk. Most of these aircraft were already ancient and outmoded by 1991. The subsequent collapse of the Soviet military aviation industry made it difficult to get spare parts and technical assistance. Several non-Russian companies sensed an opportunity and began offering maintenance and upgrade services for these elderly Soviet era warplanes. But these services were not cheap. Cuba, also dependent on billions of dollars a year in Soviet subsidies, found itself broke after the money from Russia stopped coming. So for ten years, the Cuban air force has been slowly fading as a combat ready operation. A few aircraft could always be put into the air in an emergency. But pilots got little air time because of the shortage of spares and fuel. But now Russia has again offered to help Cuba out. Details are still murky, but spares and technical assistance are apparently being offered. Assistance will also be provided for Cuba's equally decrepit air defense weapons (missiles and guns.)


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