Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces

The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces consist of ground forces, naval forces, air and air defence forces, and other paramilitary bodies including the Territorial Troops Militia, Youth Labor Army, and the Defense and Production Brigades, plus the Civil Defense Organization and the National Reserves Institution.
The armed forces has long been the most powerful institution in Cuba. The military manages many enterprises in key economic sectors representing about 4% of the Cuban economy. The military has also served as First Secretary Raúl Castro's base. In numerous speeches, Raúl Castro emphasized the military's role as a people's partner.
From 1966 until the late 1980s, Soviet Government military assistance enabled Cuba to upgrade its military capabilities to number one in Latin America and project power abroad. The first Cuban military mission in Africa was established in Ghana in 1961. Cuba's military forces appeared in Algeria, in 1963, when a military medical brigade came over from Havana to support the government. Since the 1960s, Cuba sent military forces to African and Arab countries – Syria in 1973, Ethiopia in 1978, the Cuban intervention in Angola from 1975 to 1989, and Nicaragua and El Salvador during the 1980s.
The Soviet Union gave both military and financial aid to the Cubans. The tonnage of Soviet military deliveries to Cuba throughout most of the 1980s exceeded deliveries in any year since the military build-up during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
In 1989, the government instituted a clean-up of the armed forces and the Ministry of Interior, convicting army Major General and Hero of the Republic of Cuba Arnaldo Ochoa, Ministry of Interior Colonel Antonio de la Guardia, and Ministry of Interior Brigadier General Patricio de la Guardia on charges of corruption and drug trafficking. This judgment is known in Cuba as "Causa 1". Ochoa and Antonio de la Guardia were executed. Following the executions, the Army was drastically downsized, the Ministry of Interior was moved under the informal control of Revolutionary Armed Forces chief General Raúl Castro, and large numbers of army officers were moved into the Ministry of Interior.
Cuban military power has been sharply reduced by the loss of Soviet subsidies. Today, the Revolutionary Armed Forces number 39,000 regular troops. The DIA reported in 1998 that the country's paramilitary organizations, the Territorial Militia Troops, the Youth Labor Army, and the Naval Militia had suffered considerable morale and training degradation over the previous seven years but still retained the potential to "make an enemy invasion costly." Cuba also adopted a "war of the people" strategy that highlights the defensive nature of its capabilities.
On September 14, 2012, a Cuban senior general agreed to further deepen military cooperation with China during a visit to Beijing. He said that Cuba was willing to enhance exchanges with the Chinese military and strengthen bilateral cooperation in personnel training and other areas.


The Cuban Army in its original form was first established in 1895 by Cuban revolutionaries during the Cuban War of Independence.

Revolutionary Army (Ejercito Revolucionario)

In 1984, according to Jane's Military Review, there were three major geographical commands, Western, Central, and Eastern. There were a reported 130,000 all ranks, and each command was garrisoned by an army comprising a single armoured division, a mechanised division, and a corps of three infantry divisions, though the Eastern Command had two corps totalling six divisions. There was also an independent military region, with a single infantry division, which garrisoned the Isle of Youth.
A U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency assessment in the first half of 1998 said that the army's armour and artillery units were at low readiness levels due to 'severely reduced' training, generally incapable of mounting effective operations above the battalion level, and that equipment was mostly in storage and unavailable at short notice. The same report said that Cuban special operations forces continue to train but on a smaller scale than beforehand, and that while the lack of replacement parts for its existing equipment and the current severe shortage of fuel were increasingly affecting operational capabilities, Cuba remained able to offer considerable resistance to any regional power.

2002 organization

In 1999 the Revolutionary Army represented approximately 70 percent of Cuba's regular military manpower. According to the IISS, the army's estimated 45,000 troops including 6,000 active and 39,000 members of the Ready Reserves who were completing the forty-five days of annual active-duty service necessary for maintaining their status, as well as conscripts who were fulfilling their military service requirement.
The IISS reported in 1999 that the army's troop formations consisted of four to five armored brigades; nine mechanized infantry brigades; an airborne brigade; fourteen reserve brigades; and the Border Brigade. In addition, there is an air defense artillery regiment and a surface-to-air missile brigade. Each of the three territorial armies is believed to be assigned at least one armored brigade-usually attached to the army's headquarters-as well as a mechanized infantry brigade. As well, it is known that the Border Brigade in Guantanamo and at least one ground artillery regiment, based in Las Tunas, are under the Eastern Army's command.

1996 organization

In 1996, according to Jane's Information Group, the army was organized into three Territorial Military Commands with three Armies, one army for each command. At the time, there were an estimated 38,000 army personnel.
Revolutionary Army Command:
Western Army
2nd Army Corps:
Central Army
4th Army Corps:
Eastern Army
5th Army Corps:
6th Army Corps:

Small Arms

Light and medium tanks

NameCountry of originQuantityNotes

Main battle tanks

Reconnaissance armoured vehicles

Infantry fighting vehicles

Armoured personnel carriers

Towed artillery

Self-propelled artillery

Multi rocket launchers


Anti-tank weapons

Anti-aircraft guns


Self-propelled SAMs

Cuban Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force

The Cuban Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force commonly abbreviated to DAAFAR in both Spanish and English, is the air force of Cuba.
Former aircraft include:
North American B-25 Mitchell,
North American P-51 Mustang,
and the Hawker Sea Fury
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 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 criticised for not giving the pilots of the aircraft options other than being shot down. One aircraft escaped.
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.
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 these training 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.

Cuban Revolutionary Navy (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria, MGR)

In 1988, the Cuban Navy boasted 12,000 men, three submarines, two modern guided-missile frigates, one intelligence vessel, and a large number of patrol craft and minesweepers. However, most of the Soviet-made vessels have been decommissioned or sunk to make reefs. By 2007, the Cuban Navy was assessed as being 3,000 strong by the IISS with six Osa-II and one. The Cuban Navy also includes a small marine battalion called the Desembarco de Granma. It once numbered 550 men though its present size is not known.
After the old Soviet submarines were put out of service, Cuba searched for help from North Korea's experience in midget submarines. North Korean defectors claimed to have seen Cubans in mid to late 1990s in a secret submarine base and appeared in public view years later a single picture of a small black native submarine in Havana harbour. It is rumored to be called 'Delfin' and is to be armed with two torpedoes. Only a single boat is in service and the design appears original, even if influenced both by North Korea and Soviet designs.
The Cuban Navy rebuilt one, large ex-Spanish Rio Damuji fishing boat. BP-390 is now armed with two C-201W missiles, one twin 57 mm gun mount, two twin 25 mm gun mounts and on 14.5 mm machine gun. This vessel is larger than the, and it is used as a helicopter carrier patrol vessel. A second unit was converted and entered service in 2016.
The Cuban Navy today operates its own missile systems, the made-in-Cuba Bandera and Remulgadas anti-ship missile systems, as well as the nationally produced Frontera self-propelled coastal defence multiple rocket launcher. The navy's principal threats are drug smuggling and illegal immigration. The country's geographical position and limited naval presence has enabled traffickers to utilise Cuban territorial waters and airspace.
The Cuban Navy's air wing is an ASW helicopter operator only and is equipped with 2 MI-14 Haze helicopters.

Air and Naval air bases

;Active bases:
;Inactive bases


Fleet equipment

The border guards have: 2 Stenka class patrol boats and as of 2007 approximately a dozen, down from 30/48, Zhuk patrol craft. Cuba makes Zhuk patrol craft and some are seen with an SPG-9 mounted on front of the twin 30mm guns.