Russia Sends Tu-160 Nuclear-Bombers to South Africa

Russia Sends Tu-160 Nuclear-Bombers to South Africa

On Oct. 22, 2019, Director at African Defence Review Darren Olivier has published on Twitter the media invite issued by the Department of Defence of the Republic of South Africa. According to the invite, the South African Air Force will host some military aircraft belonging to the Russian Aerospace Force during their visit to the country.

Today two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers touched down today at South African Air Force Base Waterkloof in the country’s capital Pretoria, marking the first time these bombers have made a visit to anywhere in Africa. This comes on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the first-ever Russia Africa Summit in Sochi on the Black Sea and as the Kremlin has been working to expand its influence across the continent.

The two bombers, which are capable of launching nuclear missiles, are the first to ever land in Africa and were escorted by fighter jets from the South African Air Force as they arrived at the Waterkloof air base in Tshwane. The bombers arrived at around 4 p.m. and a number of other Russian military aircraft will also land at the site. The bombers had initially been scheduled to land earlier.

“The military-to-military relations between the two countries are not solely built on struggle politics but rather on fostering mutually beneficial partnerships based on common interests,” the South African National Defence Force said in a statement. Russia’s defense ministry put out a similar statement.

For the Russians, the deployment is a visible demonstration of the country’s ability to conduct military operations far from its own territorial borders.

Russia has already been conducting an increasing number of long-range patrols, including using strategic bombers such as the Tu-160 and the Tu-95MS Bear, in the strategic Arctic and Pacific regions in recent years, highlighting these capabilities.

The Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber, nicknamed the White Swan in Russia, is a supersonic Soviet-era aircraft capable of carrying up to 12 short-range nuclear missiles and of flying 12,000 kilometers non-stop without refueling.

Cited by Interfax on Monday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it will fly two Tu-160s, an Ilyushin Il-62 passenger jet and an Antonov An-124 military cargo plane to South Africa. Russian news agencies reported after midnight that the An-124 and Il-62 had already landed in the country.

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