It was with a sense of foreboding that I heard the deep-growling sound of massive jet engines or something very large flying over our home at 3 am on 27 October…
I grabbed my cellphone and checked the local news and there it was, two Russian Tupolev 160 nuclear bombers had just left the nearby O.R. Tambo international airport at3 am on their return flight to Russia…
The Tu-160s had departed from Waterkloof military base in the early hours of Saturday morning to land and refuel at OR Tambo several hours later. The Russian defence ministry said the Tu-160s had performed a flight over the Indian Ocean, with the exercise aimed at testing the Russian bombers’ ability to operate in foreign environments and interact with the ground crew.
After refuelling and preparing for the return flight to Russia, the aircraft left OR Tambo at around 3 am on Sunday morning for an 11,000km flight.
The Russian defence ministry said the Tu-160s performed a flight over the Indian Ocean, with the exercise aimed at testing the Russian bombers’ ability to operate in foreign environments and to interact with ground services. They are capable of cruising at an altitude of 8,000m for about three hours.
The same news bulletin reported that Russia landed the world’s biggest military aircraft in South-Africa on Wednesday 29th September — these Tupolev Tu-160 “Blackjack” bombers, are the very latest military jets with long-range nuclear bombing capability.
Their arrival is a kind of display of co-operation between the defence forces of the two countries, our puny South-African airforce with extremely limited air-defence capability so, it has to be a case of “Big Brother” lording over its interests in Africa’s vast mineral resources.
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 military airbase in Pretoria.
The bombers arrived at about 4 pm and a number of other Russian military aircraft also landed at the site. The bombers had initially been scheduled to land earlier.
The apparent military-to-military relations between the two countries are definitely not built on Black-struggle politics but rather on fostering mutually strategic partnerships based on common interests. Russia’s defence ministry put out in a statement.
The arrival of these bombers in Africa’s most industrialised nation, South-Africa, coincides with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hosting an Africa summit in Russia this week, the first such event to be organised by the Russians. The nation is competing with China and the US for dominance in Africa.
According to certain unconfirmed sources, the Russian jets refuelled and took off shortly afterwards for an 8-kilometre high reconnaissance and mapping flight over South-Africa.
Am I just over reacting?