South Korea fighter jets fired 360 warning shots at a Russian A-50 military aircraft after it twice violated the country’s airspace on Tuesday, military officials in Seoul said.
The first incursion was made around 9.09 a.m. (local time) in the Sea of Japan (called the East Sea by the Koreans) near the Dokdo islets, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Seoul scrambled fighter jets in response to the violation of its air defence identification zone (ADIZ). South Korea deployed several F-15 and F-16 fighters that fired flares and warning shots after issuing warning messages.
The Russian aircraft left South Korea’s airspace within minutes but committed another similar violation around fifteen minutes later, officers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Yonhap news agency.
At around 9.33 a.m., it entered Korea’s air defence identification zone. Following further military actions, the Russian aircraft left the airspace four minutes later. It finally flew out of the air defence zone at 9.56 a.m.
Russia, however, denied violating South Korea’s airspace.
Moscow said two of its bombers carried out a planned drill over “neutral waters” and denied any warning shots were fired by South Korean jets.
It is the first time that a Russian military aircraft have violated South Korean sovereign airspace, though Russian planes have entered Korea’s ADIZ in the past.
This incident occurred just hours after four other military aircraft – two Chinese and two Russian planes – entered South Korea’s air defence identification zone around the Sea of Japan without permission.
A country’s ADIZ usually extends past its territory in order to allow more time to identify or respond to potentially hostile aircraft.