Two Russian Air Force bombers have landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Tshwane on Wednesday, following the operation being delayed by more than 24 hours.
They are capable of launching cruise missiles.
— eNCA (@eNCA) October 23, 2019
Russian Tu-160 in South Africa. За здоровье! comrades pic.twitter.com/YyWKML6FSV
— Joshua Cobb (@JoshC_BMI) October 23, 2019
Arrival of Russian Air Force Tu-160 at AFB Waterkloof, South Africa, escorted by SAAF Hawks. pic.twitter.com/bTkCVKRVrF
— Dean Wingrin (@deanwingrin) October 23, 2019
From Russia with love (or?): the hypersonic Tu-160 bomber lands at Waterkloof air force base in Pretoria. pic.twitter.com/8oP5kW0weQ
— Simon Allison (@simonallison) October 23, 2019
The Aerospace Forces of the Russian Federation (AFRF) is being hosted in South Africa by the SA Air Force (SAAF).
The visiting delegation from the AFRF includes the Antonov AN124 cargo plane, an Ilyushin Il-62 airliner and two Tupolev Tu-160 bombers.
According to Engineering News, the “Tu-160 is a supersonic, variable-swept wing, heavy bomber aircraft, capable of carrying nuclear weapons. It is the direct rival of the US’s B1 Lancer strategic bomber.”
The fact that the bombers have made it all the way to South Africa, after an in-air refuelling, is a demonstration of the strategic reach of the Russian military.
A military statement yesterday: “South Africa and Russia have strong diplomatic links that were established between both countries in 1992. Our relations are not solely built on ‘struggle politics’, but rather on fostering mutually beneficial partnerships based on common interests.”
Director at African Defence Review, Darren Olivier, noted yesterday that the operation was delayed.
“There is a 24-hour delay on the arrival of the Tu-160s, reportedly as a result of a technical glitch before departure. [They are] now expected to arrive at 6.30am tomorrow morning,” he said.
This turned out to be optimistic, with the first landing coming around 4pm.
The landing coincided with the beginning of the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, Russia, on Wednesday, which President Cyril Ramaphosa is attending.
This is an opportunity to “forge closer collaboration on regional and international issues”, according to a statement from the presidency released over the weekend.