Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More on the USSR...scratch that, Russia ties

"The Cuban army air defences see planes taking off from Florida, but have nothing with which to shoot them down - the Osa fires to 45 km, the Kvadrat (Kub in the Russian version), to 25 km."

Yes, well, how good of the Russians to come to Cuba's rescue and finally allow them the ability to shoot down the planes they see take off from Florida. Until now, Cuban pilots have had to give chase to aircraft to shoot it down the old fashioned way, and Cuba just can't have that in this day-and-age.

Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring

Russian officers' Cuba visit seen portending more than just maintenance

[Liliya Biryukova, Denis Telmanov report: "Far-Off Air Defences, Nearby Missile Defences: Russian Military Officers Are Studying the Possibilities of Cuban Air Defences"]

A delegation led by Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Maslov, chief of staff of tactical air defence of the Armed Forces, flew to Cuba yesterday. As your Gazeta correspondent was told in the Ground Troops' press service, Russian officers will be on the island until 3 November and will meet with General Alvaro Lopez Miera, chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Main Staff, and General Pedro Mendiondo Gomez, commander of air and air defence. "It is planned to discuss a consolidation of ties between the Armed Forces of Russia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba. There will also be an exchange of experience in the organization of the air defence of the troops and the training of officer personnel," the spokesman for the defence department announced.

The military officers will study the possibility of the instruction of Cuban officers in Russia in work with modern equipment. Representatives of the country's sole Armed Forces Tactical Air Defence Military Acad-emy (Smolensk) were included in the delegation to this end.

This is the first visit to Cuba of high-ranking Russian military officers since 2001, when the Lourdes base was closed. The MoD announced that it is of a purely technical planning nature involving the operation of the Igla manpad, the Osa-K and Kvadrat mobile SAMs, and the P-18 Terek and P-19 mobile radars in service with Cuba.

The P-19 sees an area in a radius of up to six kilometres and is a resource for the detection of low-altitude small and low-speed targets - helicopters and drones. The P-18 is capable of fixing a target at an altitude of 35 km at a distance of up to 250 km. The Cuban army air defences see planes taking off from Florida, but have nothing with which to shoot them down - the Osa fires to 45 km, the Kvadrat (Kub in the Russian version), to 25 km.

Nonetheless, the Russian command's attention to Cuba's army air defences is not fortuitous. It is such SAMs and radars that usually defend airfields and also other air-defence assets of greater range and power. The S-300 or S-400, for example.

Russian military experts believe that things will hardly be confined to maintenance of the old anti-aircraft guns on Cuba. Anatoliy Tsyganok, director of the Military Forecasting Centre, tied General Maslov's trip to the United States' plans to deploy missile defences in Europe. He believes that a natural consequence of this visit will be the appearance on Cuba of Russian planes, ships, and submarines. "It is likely that joint exercises will be planned for starters, after which we could be talking about arms deliveries," Tsyganok said.

Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, believes that it is as yet too soon to be forecasting the consequences of the Russian air-defence generals' visit. "Down the road, possibly, Russia will attempt to restore the ports at which naval vessels can call," Ivashov told your Gazeta correspondent. "But direct arms deliveries would appear to me to be impossible if only because of Cuba's insolvency."

We would note that Deputy Premier Igor Sechin and Nikolay Patrushev, head of Russia's Security Council, were in Havana in August. They held talks with Raul Castro on the development of Cuban oilfields by Russian companies, and the press service of the Security Council subsequently announced that the leader-ship of the two countries intended to "work consistently on the restoration of traditional ties in all fields of cooperation and on their utmost expansion and intensification."

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