South Korea scrambled fighters on Friday as Russian and Chinese warplanes on a joint exercise briefly entered its air defense identification zone, military chiefs in Seoul said.
However, “there was no invasion of airspace,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. “Our military received a reply from the Chinese side that it was… normal training through the South Korea-China direct communication network.”
The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had evaluated the situation to be a Russia-China joint exercise, and that the aircraft flew inside the zone for around 10 minutes.
South Korea dispatched F-15 and F-16 fighters along with an aerial refueling tanker as a “normal tactical measure” as the Russian and Chinese planes approached the zone, the Joint Chiefs of Staff added.
The incursion happened northeast of Dokdo — islets that are also claimed by Japan, which calls them Takeshima.
Air defense identification zones are outside a country or territory’s airspace, in which foreign aircraft are monitored for security reasons. However, they are self-declared and technically international airspace.
In 2019, South Korean fighter jets fired more than 400 warning shots and Japan complained to Moscow after a Russian military plane violated airspace near the disputed islets.
Russia said at the time that it did not recognize such zones.