Cuban Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force

Enlarge MiG-23 MiG-29
Cuban Revolutionary Air Force
Defensa Anti-Aérea y Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria
Country Cuba
BranchAir Force
RoleAerial warfare
Part ofCuban Revolutionary Armed Forces
RoundelRoundel of Cuba.svg
Fin flashCuban Air Force fin flash (tail).svg
Aircraft flown
FighterMiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-29
Attack helicopterMi-24
TrainerAero L-39
TransportMi-8, Mi-17, An-24

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.


Cuban MiG-21MF from the 1970s

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 accused 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]


A left side view of a Cuban MIG-21 fighter aircraft inside VF-45 hangar.
A Cuban Mig-23

Current inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-21 Soviet Union fighter 11[5]
MiG-23 Soviet Union fighter 24[5]
MiG-29 Russia multirole 4[5]
Antonov An-26 Ukraine transport 2[5]
Mil Mi-8 Russia utility Mi-8/17 10[5]
Mil Mi-24 Russia attack Mi-35 4[5]
Trainer Aircraft
Aero L-39 Czech Republic jet trainer 26[5]

Air Bases

A Cuban Naval Vought OS2U-3


  1. ^ Cuban Armed Forces Review: Air Force Archived 2009-02-10 at the Wayback Machine
  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] Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  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 2020". Flightglobal Insight. 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2020.