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Is the Gulf of Mexico to become Лебединое Озеро?

Tu-160 Blackjack

The Washington Post reports on Moscow rumors: Russian Bombers Could Be Deployed to Cuba

MOSCOW, July 21 — Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons could be deployed to Cuba in response to U.S. plans to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, a Russian newspaper reported Monday, citing an unnamed senior Russian air force official.

“While they are deploying the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, our strategic bombers will already be landing in Cuba,” Izvestia quoted the source as saying.

It was unclear if the source was suggesting that Russia would reopen a base in Cuba or merely use an airfield there for stopovers by the bombers, Tu-160s and Tu-95s, which are already capable of reaching the United States from bases in Russia.

The picture is of a Russian Tu-160 deploying a Kh-55 cruise missile. The missile is capable of carrying a 200 kiloton nuclear warhead, and the aircraft carries an even dozen of them.

NATO calls the aircraft the Blackjack, but Russians call it the Белый Лебедь, the White Swan.  The Russians call the Kh-55, the Гранат, the Pomegranate.  Why would the US get worried about White Swans carrying Pomegranates less than 100 miles from Florida?  Who could object to the Gulf of Mexico becoming Swan Lake?


1 Kryten42 { 07.24.08 at 4:23 am }

So… Are you considering moving somewhere, oh… east maybe? 🙂

And I am sooooooooo… *NOT* surprised. 🙂 Read my blogs over the past 4+ years… LadyMin knows. LOL

It’s a big chess game, and the USA are truly amateurs. I doubt that even JFK could do anything today.

2 Bryan { 07.24.08 at 1:07 pm }

East would be towards the problem. The most I can see happening is rotating a squadron of F-22s to South Florida, to act like we care.

This could just be some old-timers remembering the cigars and cane sugar. With the Shrubbery keeping the price of oil high by threatening everyone in sight Russia can afford it, but it could be Air Force staff sending up a trial balloon to make themselves relevant. Lately, Vlad has threatened more people with Gazprom than the VVS.

If I see what look like B-1Bs painted white overhead, I’ll start worrying.

3 Michael { 07.24.08 at 2:37 pm }

This is theater, of course, though with the potential to be very much more. With Fidel dying and Raul nominally in charge, the Cuban government is expecting to be challenged, and the Russians are keeping them in the game.

This could be an opportunity for diplomacy, in fact. But not during the current US administration.

4 Badtux { 07.24.08 at 3:06 pm }

The problem with the Tu-160 is range. Soviet jet technology never did match U.S. jet technology as far as fuel consumption was concerned, the Soviets achieved sufficient power from their jet engines via brute force, not by making the engines more efficient. Russia has few air-refueling assets and their pilots do not regularly practice air refueling, meaning Russian Bears only fly to Iceland and back and the Blackjacks only fly around the coast of Norway and back around Finland. They do have the range to make it to Cuba however if there was a place for them to land in Cuba and refuel. I seriously doubt, however, that Russia is going to spend the money to station Tu-160’s in Cuba — these are large, maintenance-heavy birds and would swiftly turn into giant doorstops if deployed away from their normal maintenance workshops, and unlike the U.S., Russia doesn’t have the money or the excess of trained personnel needed to duplicate maintenance facilities halfway around the world. Tu-160’s are as rare in the Russian inventory as B-2 bombers are in the U.S. inventory, and for much the same reason — they were created as a response to conditions that no longer apply, and are anachronisms with little purpose today.

In short, my suspicion is that the most that has or will happen is that Cuba will get a small detachment of Russians to improve an airfield to the point it can land and refuel a Tu-95 or Tu-160, and will occasionally fly a Tu-95 or Tu-160 on a round trip down the coast and to Cuba, then back to Russia, just to say “hey, we’re still around and still relevant!”. Which they are, of course, but not because they have any military force that threatens anybody other than morons who want to attack Russia. I doubt they even have any operational nuclear cruise missiles these days, everything pretty much went to hell during the Yeltsin years and Putin’s priority where nuclear forces were concerned were to get some of the missile silos and radar warning sites back online, since that was sufficient for his purpose of deterring anybody from launching a nuclear attack upon Russia. For the rest, he spent a lot of money on reconstituting conventional defenses, getting fighter jets back in the air and tanks back moving instead of rusting and such in order to dissuade people from attacking Russia via conventional arms, but Russia is still a long, long way from being able to project power via military force and frankly I doubt they’re even interested in doing so. As Brian points out, GAZPROM is Russia’s primary offensive weapon this day, and further exploiting the mostly-unexploited Siberian riches are the top priority for Russia today, not military adventurism.

-Badtux the Geopolitics Penguin

5 Bryan { 07.24.08 at 3:50 pm }

Actually I think most of the working ‘Swans” were the ones the Ukrainians returned. They were actually maintained in the South, not so much everywhere else. With better engines they would be nice birds.

I don’t see them attempting the Cuban flights with anything other than fuel on board.

They would have to ship the support gear and personnel ahead, and locate fuel, so nothing will happen quickly. It’s a good way of annoying people, and if US-Cuban relations don’t show some flexibility, there’s no reason for Raoul not to do it. The Russians could use Cuba as a military aviation dealership, rotating through whatever they want to sell to South America.

6 Badtux { 07.24.08 at 5:46 pm }

The funny thing is that now that Russia is part of the “free world”, they actually do have better engines. Russian industry still can’t produce all the components needed for a world-class jet engine, but that’s okay, they can use their GAZPROM money to buy components on the open market now that they have pretty much full access to all world markets. The Tu-160 hasn’t been upgraded to the latest and greatest, of course, and I doubt that it ever will be — as I noted earlier, the entire rationale for its existence is now as defunct as the Soviet Union. Really, I don’t know why the Russians even bother to keep it flying, other than maybe as a prestige thing.

7 Bryan { 07.24.08 at 5:54 pm }

All we need now is for Vlad to sell a couple [the line is still open] to Venezuela or Iran. That would would throw some fuel on the fire.

It is no more useful than the B-1B, which is to say, not at all.

8 Kryten42 { 07.24.08 at 10:36 pm }

Yup! LOL

You know Putin only did it to annoy the GOP Bushloving nutters! 😉 I’d go read a few of their insane blogs for a laugh… but I’m too busy and don’t care. 🙂

Anyone sane would do the usual diplo stuff, but with the bunch of clueless bed-wetters in charge there now… who knows.

Well, I got the 2 PC’s built. Now the fun of installing all the software begins! *sigh* The main dev system will mutiboot XP Pro x32/Vista Ultimate x64/Linux {I haven’t decided which yet} x64. The other will have 3 secure gateway/router configured BSD/linux distro’s for me to test and decide which I will go with.

Back to it… 😉 Have fun! (I probably won’t, until it’s all finished!)

Oops! Yeah… East is West there, and vice-versa! LOL Well… ya know what I meant! 😉

9 Bryan { 07.24.08 at 11:30 pm }

Yes, I knew what you meant. 😈

Software installation, what fun! Have just finished all of those clean installs on the Apache/PHP/MySQL I’m into programming mode, not software install mode.

It’s better today than the old Novell disk comp routine that took a day to complete. You either had to stay and watch it, or put up a dozen signs tell people not to touch the machine.

10 Kryten42 { 07.24.08 at 11:56 pm }

Stick a HazMat sign on the front! LOL

Hmmm! I might do that too. 😉

Of course… that would assume idiot users know what HazMat means. 😐 *sigh*

I am not sure installing Windoze is any easier than the old Novell stuff! Wouldn’t be the first time an install failed for no apparent reason! Or it installs, then within a few days, begins to misbehave! Then, of course… we have the wonderful *update* *reboot* {repeat many times} cycle!

I hate Windoze! I think I may have mentioned that before. 😉

11 Bryan { 07.25.08 at 12:09 am }

There should health warning labels on the install disks. It drives one to drink and worse with its random pattern of failure.

12 Badtux { 07.25.08 at 1:03 am }

Bryan, the Tu-160 line is “open” only by some definition of “open” that goes “using up a bunch of spare airframe parts”. There were some Tu-160’s on the line when the Soviet Union collapsed and Putin ordered some of them to be completed, but once the airframe parts in the factory are exhausted that’s pretty much it.

As for Windows, I am just so happy I do not have to deal with Windows on a regular basis… that’s one advantage of being a Linux penguin. If the installer fails, I can see what happened and fix it, either myself or I have people for that (bwahahaha!). No mysterious shit going on. And if there was, I’d just go into the source and put enough fprintf’s or kprintf’s until it wasn’t mysterious anymore. Use the Source, Luke :-).

– Badtux the Linux Penguin

13 Kryten42 { 07.25.08 at 1:34 am }

It’s not *what* Putin is doing with Cuba that interests me so much as the timing, and the *why*. 🙂 He’s no fool. I also don’t think that it primarily has anything to do with supporting Cuba.

The real fun will start getting XP & Vista to read/write EXT2/3 & ReiserFS partitions!

I used to use EXT2IFS but haven’t tried it on Vista, and I have a ReiserFS driver, again, dunno about Vista! *sigh* I’ll find out I guess. 😉

I use Cygwin a lot on XP! 😉 And some good remote access tools from NetSarang, especially their X-server. 🙂 But they don’t help much on a multiboot PC (and unfortunately, I can’t use VMware or other virtualizer for what I need to do. They are not 100% yet).

14 Bryan { 07.25.08 at 5:07 pm }

They haven’t dismantled the line or destroyed the forms, so they could, in theory, start up again, but it would be damn expensive. Tupolov would want confirmed orders before it did anything.

Izvestia, even after the Kremlin denied anything was going on, reported that their have been visits to Cuba by officials from Long Range Aviation looking at possible landing fields. Izvestia is owned by Gazprom, so it has inside access, but it may just be launching trial balloons and plausible deniability for Putin.

It doesn’t make sense for anything other than pull the tail of the US, and the Shrubbery is gone is less than six-months, so nothing will happen unless the US over-reacts.

Cuba is playing its traditional role as a pawn, but it is probably making money for going along with this charade by not saying anything.