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Cuban Defector Says 200 Soviet Jets in Cuba

Sept. 12, 1962 - A Cuban Air Force pilot instructor, who defected last week in a Czechoslovakian-built training plane, reported today that more than 200 MIG jet fighters had been turned over to Cuba by the Soviet Union. The defector, Lieut. José Diaz Vasquez, said in a telephone interview from Florida that the Soviet jet fighters, usually flown by Cuban pilots, were stationed throughout the island. His report of more than 200 MIG’s, including MIG-15’s and more up-to-date MIG-19’s, considerably exceeds the estimates made in Washington on the strength of the Cuban Air Force. Lieutenant Diaz was the first pilot to defect from Cuba with a Soviet-bloc military aircraft and the first member of the Cuban Air Force to escape to the U.S. since substantial Soviet military aid began to reach the country. Lieutenant Diaz said at least 100 Soviet Air Force specialists were attached to the San Antonio base, including two with the rank of marshal. He said the Soviet specialists, wearing civilian clothes or Cuban Air Force uniforms, included pilots, control-tower operators, radar experts, flight engineers, and mechanics.


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