A USAF C-130 now serving as the
broadcast platform for Radio and Television Marti will not be
redeployed from southern Florida to Iraq, officials said. President
Bush has reportedly put a high value on the Hercules' mission to
beam pro-US messages into Cuba that it won't be redeployed until a
replacement aircraft can be purchased and equipped.
''The president has made the decision that we would do what we
could to break through the information blockade imposed by the
Castro regime,'' an unnamed State Department official told Miami's
El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald. The statement came on the
heels of reports about concerns raised by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(R-FL) that the Pentagon's C-130 Commando Solo plane could be taken
off the Cuba mission and sent to Iraq. ''As far as we know. . .
until the permanent platform is available, the C-130 is
The issue is money -- the $10 million needed to replace the
Commando Solo aircraft, said the State Department official. ''No
one presumed that the battle for the $10 million was going to be a
slam-dunk,'' the official said. "At this point, the administration
is working on that issue. I remain confident that we're going to
get the money.''
Commando Solo missions -- there have been 39 of them since
August, 2004 -- are reportedly deemed by the administration to be
vital, since military officials think a moving broadcast platform
is harder for the Cuban government to jam.