Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Pimp My Tank Cuba Remakes Weapons With US Foe In Mind

File photo of Castro and the boys in 1957
by Carlos Batista
Havana (AFP) Dec 01, 2006
Cuba's mechanics, famed for keeping vintage 1950s US cars on the road, have brought their magic to the military, tweaking, chopping and retooling Soviet-era war machinery, eying a potential US threat. On Saturday as Cuba rolls out its guns to mark the 50th anniversary of its armed forces, and Fidel Castro's belated 80th birthday, the world will get a rare glimpse at Cuba's first military parade in a decade.

It is not one of the world's biggest armed forces. But in Latin America's only communist-ruled country, so close to traditional enemy the United States, Cuba takes defense seriously.

And the armed forces, led by Raul Castro, consider themselves the backbone of the one-party system that has been in place for more than four decades.

For many years Cuba did not buy new weapons but tried to maintain and repair what it had from before 1989 when the Soviet Bloc collapsed. Raul Castro has estimated the value of "donated" East Bloc weaponry obtained 1961-1990 at 30 billion dollars.

But as of 2003, as the economy recovered slightly from the economic crash after 1989, Havana started spending a bit more on spare parts and some new items, citing a greater US threat under President George W. Bush.

Among the priorities, artillery and missile units that are all self-propelled, as suggested by a Cuban study, which found that they would be harder for US aviation to locate and destroy, experts say.

Cubans have upgraded old Soviet-made vehicles, tricking them out with cannons, special armor, guns where there once we none, special maneuvering capacity, and other combat-ready assets to improve their firepower and self-protection abilities.

A BMP armored troop transport vehicle for example has had an added turret and a gun to boot.

BTRs, amphibian transport units, have been outfitted with ZU-23 double anti-aircraft cannon.

Cuba's military since the 1980s has anticipated a massive air war that could be launched by the United States rather than a ground invasion, which would likely cause massive casualties.

Cuban military officials also have said publicly that they have studied recent conflicts in close detail, focusing on those in which the United States is involved -- particularly in Afghanistan and then Iraq.

"During drills carried out this week, Monday and Wednesday, 80 percent of the equipment that was on display was anti-air -- anti-aircraft and anti-helicopter -- as helicopters are the preferred US troop transport mode," a retired military official said privately, among curious onlookers.

Throughout this year, factories that normally turn out sugar cane harvesting equipment and other farm machinery were turned over to the Revolutionary Armed Forces.

And the result will be on parade with a message for the United States: Cuba, though short on funds, is still able to modernize on a shoestring, alongside its factories that make weapons and light vehicles.

"We will show the new, moderate techniques, that we ourselves have modernized in military industry, Raul Castro said when he announced the parade which he has organized.

After 1990, amid the gravest of economic crises, Cuba maintained that it did not import weaponry.

Since 2003 however, given a green light for some new spending, Raul Castro has had talks with Belarus this year and signed a technical cooperation deal with Russia, technological heirs of the Soviets.

For two decades, Cuba's overarching military strategy "War of an Entire Nation," has been to respond to a potential US invasion by spreading out forces and weaponry as broadly as possible, as the only way to compete with US technological superiority.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links

QinetiQ Awarded DARPA Contract To Explore 'First-Of-Their-Kind' Sensors
Farnborough, UK (SPX) Dec 04, 2006
QinetiQ has secured a two-year $5.0m research contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in support of its Large Area Coverage Optical Search While Track and Engage (LACOSTE) programme. This will investigate using first-of-their-kind sensors, like lensless imaging, to provide persistent tactical surveillance and precision tracking capabilities.

  • Shock And Awe About-Face
  • China, US To Hold First Strategic Economic Dialogue
  • Breaking Taboo, Japan Votes To Create Defense Ministry
  • US Power Stays In Middle East

  • Blair Faces Backlash Over Nuclear Deterrent Replacement
  • US Urges North Korea To Close Nuke Facilities Before Talks
  • Japan Pledges To IAEA To Shun Nukes
  • North Korean Options

  • Raytheon Awarded Contract For Missile Launcher Production
  • Pakistan Test Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile
  • Raytheon HARM Variant Hits Target Without Radar Guidance
  • Missiles, Missiles Everywhere

  • A Giant Leap Forward For Indian Missile Defense
  • India Joins BMD Club
  • India Says First Missile Intercept Test A Success
  • Aegis Missile Defense Fleet Tops 80 Ships

  • Boeing Business Jets Delivers Its 100th Green Airplane
  • A380 Wraps Up Technical Route Proving After a Final Trip Over Both Poles
  • DLR And EUROCONTROL Create Joint Total Airport Management Concept
  • Aviation Industry Alarmed At New EU Emission Rules

  • Goodrich Awarded Contract From USAF To Develop Shortwave Infrared Sensor For UAVs
  • Beale AFB Gets New Global Hawk
  • QinetiQ World First Flight Demo Of Multiple UAV System
  • Boeing Demonstrates UAV Automated Aerial Refueling Capability

  • More Troops In Iraq Will Make Little Difference
  • Can Iraq Be Successfully Torn Apart
  • Can Syria And Iran Help The US And UK Leave Iraq
  • US May Boost Troops In Iraq

  • Pimp My Tank Cuba Remakes Weapons With US Foe In Mind
  • QinetiQ Awarded DARPA Contract To Explore 'First-Of-Their-Kind' Sensors
  • Raytheon's Paveway Precision Guided Bomb Kit Wins US Air Force Contract Competition
  • US Army To Deploy Lockheed Martin Persistent Threat Detection Systems

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement