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S.Korea, Japan scramble jets as China, Russia bombers patrol air defense zones

Dec 15, 2023


South Korea and Japan deployed fighter jets on Thursday, Dec. 14, in response to Chinese and Russian military planes entering their air defense zones, according to military officials in both countries. The incident first occurred in the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) off South Korea’s east coast. 

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In a statement by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, nuclear-capable fighters like China’s H-6, J-16, and Y-8, and Russia’s Tu-95 and Su-35, were not among the aircraft that violated South Korea’s territorial airspace. 

Air defense identification zones (ADIZ) allow countries to unilaterally require foreign aircraft to identify themselves, as per the International Civil Aviation Organization.

According to Reuters, ADIZ is different from a nation’s airspace, which usually means the space above its territory, extending 12 nautical miles away from its coastline. Currently, there are no international laws that govern air defense zones.

On Friday, Dec. 15, South Korea’s Defense Ministry lodged a protest with China and Russia over the intrusion of its KADIZ by military aircraft. The protest was conveyed by the head of the ministry’s international policy bureau to the military stationed at the Chinese and Russian embassies in Seoul.

Moscow does not acknowledge KADIZ, while Beijing argues it is not territorial airspace, emphasizing freedom of movement for all countries in the area.

“In performing their tasks, the aircraft of both countries acted strictly in accordance with international law,” Russia said in a statement through its state-controlled news agency. “There were no violations of the airspace of other countries. Upon completion of joint air patrolling, all aircraft returned to base. The patrol was carried out within the framework of the military cooperation plan for 2023 and was not directed against third countries.”

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