South Africa To Host ‘Strange’ Naval Drills With Warships From China, Russia

February 16, 2023 in News by RBN Staff

source:  zerohedge

THURSDAY, FEB 16, 2023 – 03:15 AM

Authored by Darren Taylor via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

South Africa is set to host what analysts have described as “10 days of war games” with China and Russia from Feb. 17 to Feb. 26, which coincides with the anniversary of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) stands with three Russian naval officers at a parade marking Navy Day in St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 31, 2022. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

The countries involved have described the event, to be held off South Africa’s east coast, as a “multilateral maritime exercise.”

We are very much looking forward to seeing the Russian and Chinese navies in action; I am sure our navy will learn a lot,” a senior official in South Africa’s defense department told Voice of America.

A Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning (C), during military drills in the South China Sea, on Jan. 2, 2017. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

They have told us the warships are on their way, and they intend to demonstrate all kinds of sophisticated equipment and weapons, navigation systems, and much more.

Guy Martin, a military and defense analyst at defenceWeb, a portal that analyzes military and security issues in Africa, told The Epoch Times that the Russian warship Admiral Gorshkov, currently off the Syrian coast, would soon make its way to the port of Durban.

“It’s armed with hypersonic Zircon missiles,” he said.

According to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, Zircon missiles fly at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of at least 750 kilometers (466 miles), although the Russian military insists the range is more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).

“The Zircon missile is strategically valuable due primarily to its speed,” the alliance states on its website.

“In April 2017, it was reported that the Zircon had reached a speed of Mach 8 during a test. If that information is accurate, the Zircon missile would be the fastest in the world, making it nearly impossible to defend against due to its speed alone.

“Another valuable aspect of the missile is its plasma cloud. During flight, the missile is completely covered by a plasma cloud that absorbs any rays of radio frequencies and makes the missile invisible to radars. This allows the missile to remain undetected on its way to the target.”

A hypersonic Zircon cruise missile is fired from the guided missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov during a test at the Barents Sea, in this still image taken from a video that was released on May 28, 2022. (Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin “has boasted about the Zircon missiles being able to pierce American defense systems,” Martin told the Epoch Times.

“He loves talking about them and really regards them as being the showpiece of his arsenal of cruise weapons,” he said.

So, for him to be sending a ship armed with Zircons to South Africa is quite something.

“The message it’s sending is, ‘We regard our relationship with you as so close that we’re willing to show you our best weapons; we’re willing to show you the full capabilities of our naval force, and we know you won’t tell the West anything about what we show you, because you’re on our side against the imperialists.’

‘Nostalgic Reasons’

“Economically speaking, it doesn’t make sense at all for the government to ally itself with Russia,” Steven Gruzd, head of the African Governance and Diplomacy Program at the South African Institute of International Affairs, told The Epoch Times.

“Therefore, the only logical conclusion to draw is that the ANC is with Russia for nostalgic reasons, and also because it has bought into the Russian narrative that the war also represents a struggle against the imperialist West that bullies smaller countries.

“This, of course, ignores the fact that Russia is bullying Ukraine—or trying to, at least.”

Spector said the ANC is ignoring the “wishes and desires” of its own people by siding with Russia.

“The African middle-class and aspirant middle-class population is growing dramatically, and there are more people under the age of 30 in Africa than anywhere else,” he said.

“Ask those people if they want Russian or American goods and services. Pretty much everybody I’ve met in Africa who has any money is keen to get hold of some aspect of American output.”

Martin said South Africa’s participation in naval exercises, no matter the countries involved, is also “strange on a practical level,” given the “poor state” that its navy is in.

Much of South Africa’s naval fleet is in drydock because of a lack of funding and poor maintenance of vessels.

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