Russian nuclear bombers land in SA as battle for Africa heats up

By Antony Sguazzin

(Bloomberg) – Russia on Wednesday landed the world’s biggest military aircraft in South Africa, the Tupolev Tu-160 ‘Blackjack’ bomber, in a rare display of cooperation between the defense 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 South African Air Force as they arrived at the Waterkloof air base in Tshwane. The bombers arrived at around 4pm 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.

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.