By Manuel Cereijo


Cuba is actively and extensively engaged in the whole realm of signals intelligence (SIGINT), electronic warfare (EW) and cyber-warfare activities. It ranks as one of the leaders in the world, at least according to some more quantitative measurements, in some important information warfare (IW) areas. Cuba maintains by far the most extensive SIGINT capabilities of all the countries in Latin America and Europe.It has more SIGINT ground stations. Most of these were obtained from Russia in the 1990s, such as the large Krug circularly disposed antenna array (CDAA) and the Moon systems used for strategic SIGINT and HF DF operations, although many of them have been considerably up-graded since 1998. Cuba probably now has more facilities for intercepting foreign satellite communications than any other country in except the United States. Again, these are mostly based on systems supplied by the Soviet Union in the 1980s,and 1990s.

An energetic round of new thinking, doctrinal change and organizational reform concerning IW operations was prompted by the performance of US forces in Operation Desert Storm against Iraq in 1991. The Cuban military leadership was very impressed by the US operation, and especially 'the ease with which [the US forces] destroyed Iraq's largely Soviet and Chinese equipment'. The intelligence and EW aspects of the Gulf War were closely monitored by a special SIGINT unit located in Lourdes, Cuba, 2000 miles from Baghdad, that intercepted large amounts of US and Allied military communications. Special SIGINT units in the Cuban Embassy in Iraq also intercepted communications and collected electronic intelligence on US and Allied military activities. (For example, these units reportedly intercepted intelligence that the ground phase of the war was about to start five days beforehand.) Cuban defense analysts quickly appreciated both the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) and its IW dimension. There was a spate of publications by senior military officers concerning IW published in 1993-95. Implementation of an IW plan began in 1995, and since 1998 the Cubans have conducted several exercises involving cyber-warfare activities. The Ministry of the Interior (intelligence) and other civil authorities have also become well-versed in cyber-warfare, partly through their attempts to establish a 'great firewall' around Cuba's computer networks and to strictly control Internet usage, and because Cuba is home to the most virulent computer hackers in the world.

Cubans strategists also closely monitored the war in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) in 2001-2002, appreciating the potency of network-centric warfare, with integrated (or networked) command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare (C3ISREW) systems, as well as the susceptibility of network-based forces to cyber-warfare.

In 1997, a Counter-Electronic Warfare Department was established, at the same level as the Technical Department and the Second (or Foreign Intelligence) Department, reflecting the upgrading of Cuba's tactical SIGINT and EW capabilities over recent years. The Department also manages and directs SIGINT and EW operations for the Air Force and Navy.

The SIGINT ground stations

There are three SIGINT ground stations deployed throughout Cuba, concerned with monitoring signals from the United States, Latin America, and Europe. The two largest SIGINT stations are, first the Bejucal base , then the bases at Wajay, Santiago de Cuba, and Paseo.

In early 1999, following an agreement signed between China and Cuba in February 1998, Chinese personnel began operating two SIGINT stations in Cuba. One is a large complex at Bejucal, just south of Havana, which has ten SATCOM antennas, and which is primarily concerned with intercepting telephone communications in the US. A 'cyber-warfare' unit at the station focuses on computer data traffic. The second is located northeast of Santiago de Cuba at the eastern-most part of the country and is 'dedicated mainly to intercepting U.S. military satellite communications'.

Cuba has also developed limited capabilities for jamming satellite communications, especially those in the lower (e.g., UHF) SATCOM frequency bands. In addition, Cuba also has some capabilities for jamming transmissions from other sorts of satellites, including radar satellites (such as the US Lacrosse system) and navigation satellites (NAVSATs). For example, Cuba has recently acquired a capability for jamming US GPS and GLONASS global positioning/NAVSAT signals, evidently based on a jamming system purchased from the Russian company Aviaconversia.

The establishment of the Counter-Electronic Warfare Department in 1992 reflected a further enhancement of the Cuba's tactical SIGINT and EW capabilities. As a result of Cuba's assessments of the Gulf War in January-February 1991, the Department received additional funding and skilled personnel.

The Cubans has several different types of indigenously-produced ELINT and EW systems for tactical/battlefield purposes.

The Cuban electronics industry has also produced a Radar Signal Environment Simulator, which can reportedly simulate 100 radar signals in order to deceive adversary ELINT collection and EW systems.

Since at least 1997, EW and counter-command and control missions have been regularly conducted as part of the Cubans large-scale exercises.

Three models of airborne jamming systems are currently in service - the BM/KG 8601, the BM/KG 8605 and the BM/KG 8606. The BM/KG 8601 repeater jammer operates in the E/F-bands (2-4 GHz) and the G/H-bands (4-8 GHz). multi-jamming capabilities.

The BM/KG 8605 system operates in the I/J-bands (8-20 GHz), and is regarded as 'a smart noise jammer that produces a hybrid output that incorporates elements of both noise and deception modulations'. The BM/KG 8606 system operates within the I-band (8-10 GHz), and uses orthogonal and dual circularly-polarised jamming techniques.


Cuba has the most extensive and most practiced cyber-warfare capabilities. Cuba began to implement an IW plan in 1995, and since 1998 has conducted several exercises in which computer viruses have been used to interrupt military communications and public broadcasting systems. In April 1997, a 100-member elite corps was set up by the Central Military Commission to devise 'ways of planting disabling computer viruses into American and other Western command and control defence systems'. In 2000, Cuba established a strategic IW unit (which US observers have called 'Net Force') designed to 'wage combat through computer networks to manipulate enemy information systems spanning spare parts deliveries to fire control and guidance systems'.

Cuba IW units have reportedly developed 'detailed procedures' for Internet warfare, including software for network scanning, obtaining passwords and breaking codes, and stealing data; information-paralysing software, information-blocking software, and information-deception software; and software for effecting counter-measures. These procedures have been tested in recent field exercises. Cuba radio spectrum management officials have declared that Cuba has capabilities for intercepting satellite up-link signals.

Assessing Cuba's IW Capabilities

Cuba is the leader in IW in Latin America, at least according to more quantitative measurements. It has the most SIGINT ground stations in the region, and the most EW sets installed aboard combat aircraft and naval combatants. It collects voluminous diplomatic and military COMINT, facilitating crypt-analytical processes and providing invaluable strategic and military intelligence. It comprehensively monitors electromagnetic emissions from around its borders, collecting a massive amount of ELINT about the radars, EW systems and electronic sub-systems aboard weapons platforms maintained by neighbouring defence forces. Its EW systems have been tested in large-scale field exercises more often than in most regional defence forces. Cubans mathematicians, linguists, electronics technicians and cryptologists are clever and accomplished. Cubas has the largest number of practicing cyber-warriors, including both those employed in official defence, intelligence and state security agencies . Cuban strategists and military planners vigorously debate the latest technological developments and operational concepts.

But how good really are Cuba'sIW capabilities? How well would they perform in either large-scale or intensive military operations? How do they compare with those of its neighbours? Could Cuba be expected to achieve 'information superiority' over its potential adversaries in contingent circumstances?

Cuba's defense strategists have a thorough understanding of the theoretical aspects of IW, and appreciate the fundamental requirements of an effective IW strategy - including the need for doctrinal innovation, recruitment and training of sufficient technically adept personnel, and drastic reorganization of command structures at both the High Command and operational levels, as well as the requirements for broadband, digitized and smart technical systems:

In the final analysis, information warfare is conducted by people. The basic great plan is to cultivate talented people suited to information warfare. One aspect is to cultivate talent in information science and technology. The second aspect is talented people in command and control. They especially need to have the ability to conduct comprehensive analysis and policy-information processing, to understand themselves and the enemy, as well as the battlefield, and also have a capacity for scientific strategic thinking and a comprehensive point of view. They must also be adept at using information technology to organize and command warfare.

Cuba's cyber facilities are a threat to the United States.

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Éste y otros excelentes artículos del mismo AUTOR aparecen en la REVISTA GUARACABUYA con dirección electrónica de: