>– Soviet-Built Air Base in Nicaragua Can Accommodate Russia’s Tu-160 Strategic Bomber, Ideal Base to Launch Sorties Against US West Coast
– Nicaraguan Media Confirmed Managua’s Interest in Renovating Abandoned Air Base at Punta Huete in November 2007 (source)
– Sandinistas Sought to Purchase MiG-21 Fighter Jets in 1980s; Neo-Sandinista Regime Apparently Seeking to Equip Tiny Air Force with Newer MiGs
Just in time for Barack Hussein Obama’s socialist presidency in the USA, the neo-Soviet leadership has moved quickly to revitalize political-economic-military links with South America’s communist troika–Communist Cuba, Red Venezuela, and neo-Sandinista Nicaragua. Over the last few months we have been diligently searching for news that neo-Soviet Russia may use airbases in Nicaragua to station or refuel her strategic bombers, or reconnaissance aircraft, with the intent of discreetly encircling the USA with military assets. This was clearly the Soviet Union’s intent during the 1980s, when Central America’s Cold War entered its coldest phase. The Kremlin media has already leaked conflicting reports that this may be the case with Cuba and Venezuela.
Pictured above: A photo of the Punta Huete air base north of Lake Managua, presumably taken in the 1980s. Construction of the reinforced concrete runway began in 1982 and concluded in 1986. Note anti-aircraft emplacements (click on photo). In July 1987 the New York Times explained the strategic importance of Punta Huete to the Soviet Air Force with respect to approaching the US West Coast on attack runs: “The Russians cannot conduct such flights along the Pacific coast now without a turn-around refueling site such as Punta Huete, because the distance from their Asian bases to the southwestern border of the United States is too great for the reconnaissance aircraft to make an unrefueled round trip.”
As we have previously reported, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and “former” KGB agent Igor Sechin visited Managua last Saturday, at which time he conferred with Nicaragua’s not-so-repackaged Marxist president Daniel Ortega on a number of bilateral issues. According to the Spanish-language media in Central America, the refurbishing of the Punta Huete air base, the dredging of a deep-water port at Monkey Point on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, and Ortega’s scheduled December 17 visit to Moscow were apparently high on the agenda at this meeting. Assuming that the computerized translator used by your resident blogger is correct, Punta Huete will serve as a terminus for Russian transport aircraft, away from the congestion (and unwanted publicity) at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua, while Monkey Point will accommodate large ships, presumably including Russian (naval?) vessels. On November 10 Nicaragua’s El Nuevo Diario reported:
The runway at Punta Huete, constructed in the decade of the 1980s for MIG-21 airplanes that never arrived at the country, will become an aerial terminal for Russian transport airplanes and thus avoid the airport of Managua. Thus declared yesterday Vice-president Jaime Morals Carazo, following conversations this past Saturday in Managua with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who was several hours in the Nicaraguan capital. . . . The most important subject that was discussed was Ortega’s visit to Russia on December 17, to sign a series of projects, among them the rehabilitation of the runway at Punta Huete. . . . Carazo Morals indicated that the runway at Punta Huete has the necessary length so that large airplanes can land. He also spoke on other projects, including the deep-water port at Monkey Point, cooperation in the matter of geothermal energy and agriculture, and the establishment of a center of Russian-Nicaraguan culture.
Ironically, Ortega’s hand-picked Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo is an ex-Contra who fought against the Sandinistas’ first, Soviet/Cuban-backed regime in the 1980s, but struck hands with the Sandinistas in order to run in the 2006 elections. Last year Iran and Venezuela also pledged to build the port at Monkey Point and then construct a “dry canal” corridor of pipelines, railways, and highways across Nicaragua to the more populated region on the Pacific coast. In March 2007, barely two months after Ortega re-assumed the presidency, reported the San Antonio Express-News last December, Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast Rama Indians and Creoles encountered helicopter-borne Iranians in military uniforms near Monkey Point. It would appear that Russia, Venezuela, and Iran are all somehow involved now in rebuilding Nicaragua’s war-ravished infrastructure.
Other Spanish-language websites add various details regarding the November 8 Ortega-Sechin meeting. The Guatemala-based Periódico Digital Centroamericano y del Caribe confirms that Ortega and Sechin discussed the renovation of Punta Huete, which was “constructed by the Russians in the 1980s,” the dredging at Monkey Point, and the digging of an “interoceanic channel” across Nicaragua. Lastly, the Mexican media reports: “Ortega requested that the Russians rehabilitate the military runway at Punta Huete, constructed in the 1980s with the aid of the Soviet Union, but presently in disuse. Punta Huete, which is about 20 kilometeres to the north of Managua, could then be used for the landing of MiG fighter jets, as well as receive transatlantic commercial airplanes that face space limitations at the international airport in Managua.”
The Nicaraguan air force, in spite of plans to that effect in the 1980s, has never operated combat jets, but the last quote from President Ortega suggests that the neo-Sandinista regime may be seeking such firepower. Under the terms of a 1981 military pact with the Soviet Union, Nicaraguan pilots trained in Bulgaria. Earlier this month we posted news that under the terms of the revitalized Moscow-Managua military pact Nicaraguan airmen and soldiers will train in Russia itself. Intriguingly, the 3,000-meter runway at Punta Huete is just long enough to accommodate Russia’s Blackjack bomber which, according to official specifications, requires a 3,050-meter tarmac. By contrast, the older, subsonic Bear bomber requires a longer, 3,500-meter blacktop.