Russia’s ‘Blackjack’ bombers land in Pretoria

By Stepan Kravchenko.

The two bombers, capable of launching nuclear missiles, are the first in history to land in Africa and were escorted by fighter jets from the SA Air Force.

Russia landed the world’s biggest military aircraft in SA on Wednesday — the Tupolev Tu-160 “Blackjack” bomber, in a rare display of co-operation between the defence forces of the two countries.

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 SA Air Force as they arrived at the Waterkloof airbase in Tshwane.

The bombers arrived at about 4 pm 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 SA National Defence Force said in a statement. Russia’s defence ministry put out a similar statement.

The arrival of the bombers in Africa’s most industrialised nation coincides with Russian President Vladimir Putin hosting an Africa summit this week, the first such event to be organised by Russia. The nation is competing with China and the US for influence in Africa.

Bloomberg

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