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Korea, Japan scramble jets as Russian and Chinese bombers come close

Joint air patrol of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the PLA Air Force in the Asia-Pacific region on Wednesday (Image courtesy: Ministry of Defence, Russia)

Russian Defence Ministry has said that a combined air exercise with China over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea on Wednesday did not violate the airspace of foreign countries.

Earlier today, an air group consisting of TU-95MS strategic missile carriers of the Russian Aerospace Forces and Hong-6K strategic bombers of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLA) conducted air patrols over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.

The event with a flight duration of about eight hours, said Moscow, was held as part of the implementation of the provisions of the military cooperation plan for 2022 and was not directed against third countries.

“The fighter escort of the air group was provided by the crews of the Su-30SM and Su-35S of the Russian Aerospace Forces. At certain stages of the route, strategic missile carriers were accompanied by fighters from foreign countries,” said the Russian Defence Ministry in a statement.

The South Korean military had deployed several of its fighter jets, including the F-15, to take tactical measures to prepare for contingencies as two H-6 bombers, four Russian military aircraft TU-95 bombers, and two SU-35 fighters entered the Korean Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ).

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said that the warplanes entered KADIZ “without notice” even though they did not violate South Korea’s territorial air and left after approximately 18 minutes.

Local media reported that this is the second time that Chinese military aircraft have entered KADIZ since May this year.

“The planes’ entry into the KADIZ came as South Korea is pushing to strengthen its alliance with the United States amid an intensifying Sino-US rivalry, while maintaining its opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Tokyo too scrambled fighter jets of its Air Self-Defence Force in response as the warplanes passed through the Tsushima Strait advancing into the Sea of Japan.

Detailing the movement of Russian and Chinese bombers, Japan’s Joint Staff said two Chinese H-6 bombers “entered the Sea of Japan and then flew north” on Wednesday morning.

“Around the same time, what appears to be two Russian aircraft flew south over the Sea of Japan and then turned around,” said the Japanese Defence Ministry.

Japan Sea
(Image courtesy: Ministry of Defence, Japan)

Meanwhile, the Russian Defence Ministry said it was for the first time in the course of joint patrolling that a Russian aircraft landed at an airfield in China and a Chinese aircraft landed on the territory of the Russian Federation with all aircraft involved returning to their home airfields upon completion of the event.

“In the course of performing tasks, the Russian and Chinese crews acted in accordance with the provisions of international law. There were no violations of the airspace of foreign states,” it said.

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