South Korean fighter jets fired more than 300 warning shots at a Russian military aircraft that had violated the country’s airspace.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff accused a Russian A-50 command and control military aircraft of twice violating South Korean airspace off the country’s eastern coast prompting the ROKAF jets scrambled to intercept the intruder to fire around 360 warning shots, according to officers from the South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
South Korea said one of the Russian planes – the A-50 – flew beyond the KADIZ and entered the country’s territorial airspace at around 09:00 local time (00:00 GMT).
South Korean F-15 and F-16 planes were deployed to intercept it.
It is the first time a foreign country has violated South Korean airspace, according to the Ministry of National Defense. The confrontation took place over disputed islands in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
A full account of what happened today according to the South Korean sources has been published by the Yonhap News Agency:
The Russian early warning plane first entered KADIZ at 09:01 and flew further into the airspace after 8 minutes.
“The Air Force instantly deployed multiple jets, including F-15Ks and F-16Ks, and sent warning messages to it in accordance with operation manuals. But the plane did not respond, so one of our aircraft fired some 10 rounds of flares and 80 warning shots,” a JCS officer said.
The Russian aircraft then left the airspace after three minutes, and finally flew out of KADIZ at around 9:15 a.m, he added.
At around 9:33 a.m., however, it again encroached upon South Korean airspace. Following stronger military actions involving around 280 rounds of warning shots, the aircraft left the airspace four minutes later. It finally flew out of the air defense zone at 9:56 a.m.
Before the airspace infringement took place, two Russian and two Chinese bombers violated KADIZ earlier in the day, according to the officers.
At around 6:44 a.m., two Chinese H-6s flew into KADIZ from northwest of South Korea’s Ieodo, a submerged rock south of the southern island of Jeju, and stayed for about 30 minutes.
At 7:49 a.m., they re-entered the air defense zone from the south of the eastern island of Ulleung, and stayed there about 30 minutes before leaving the zone heading northward.
The Chinese aircraft then joined two Russian TU-50s and flew southward together over the East Sea. The four entered KADIZ at around 8:40 a.m. for a 25-minute flight, according to the JCS officer.
Later in the day, at around 13:11 p.m., the two Russian bombers again entered KADIZ and left the zone 27 minutes, he added.
Taken all together, the Russian aircraft stayed in KADIZ for about 93 minutes, and the Chinese warplanes stayed there for 85 minutes.
Japan also confirmed it scrambled fighter jets in response to the Russian incursion, Tuesday.
“We confirmed Russia’s A50 has invaded Japan’s airspace while two of Russian TU-95 bombers and two Chinese H-6 bombers flew around Japan. We took measures against the invasion” said a spokesman for the country’s ministry of defense.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that two Tu-95 strategic bombers had carried out a planned flight in the airspace over neutral waters of the Sea of Japan (East Sea), and accused South Korean fighter pilots of acting inappropriately.
“(They) conduced unprofessional maneuvers by crossing the course of Russian strategic missile carriers, threatening their security,” the ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
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