Two Russian Tu-160 “Blackjack” nuclear bombers have touched down at the Waterkloof Air Force base located in the outskirts of Pretoria, South Africa. The Russian aircrafts arrived at about 16:30 on Wednesday 23 October 2019. This is the first time these engineering marvels have visited the African continent.
South African authorities announced that the Russian Air Force would be sending the two bombers on an inaugural visit to South Africa, which was initially scheduled for 21 October. But the arrival was delayed by 24 hours due to unspecified technical issues, before bad weather caused even further delay.
— Russia in RSA 🇷🇺 (@EmbassyofRussia) October 23, 2019
I was just sent this incredible video of one of the Tu-160s landing at AFB Waterkloof, taken from right under the approach path. pic.twitter.com/uwDZhtjBWE
— Darren Olivier (@darren_olivier) October 23, 2019
When the two bombers finally entered South African airspace, they were escorted by a pair of Gripen fighter jets, along with a Hawk MK120. The two Gripens landed at Waterkloof with the Russian bombers, while the Hawk returned home. The South African and Russian military wings are expected to hold a seminar where combat and search and rescue matters will be up for discussion.
“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.
The visit to Waterkloof Air Force base coincides with Russian President Vladimir Putin hosting an African summit in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi. While speaking to dozens of African leaders, Putin called for trade with African countries to be doubled over the next five years.
“Many Russian companies have long and successfully worked with partners from the most different sectors of the African economy and plan to expand their influence in Africa. We of course will provide support at the state level,” said Putin.