South Korean officials said Tuesday that is air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots targeting “multiple” Russian military planes that crossed into its airspace in a joint Russia-China military exercise.
The officials said three Russian military planes, two bombers and one airborne early warning aircraft – entered the South’s air defense identification zone, and then one bomber came completely into South Korean airspace.
South Korean scrambled 18 fighter jets, including F-16s, to the area, firing 10 flares and 80 rounds from machine guns. Japan also reportedly sent jets to the area.
“Seoul defense officials said the Russian reconnaissance aircraft left the area three minutes later but later returned and violated South Korean airspace again for four minutes. The officials said the South Korean fighter jets then fired 10 flares and 280 rounds from machine guns as warning shots,” the Associated Press reported.
The intrusion marks the first time since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War that a foreign plane has entered their airspace, South Korea officials said.
The alleged intrusion came as Russia and China carried out its first long-range joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific region.
While troops and naval ships from Russia and China have taken part in joint war games before, they have not, according to , conducted such air patrols in the Asia-Pacific region together until Tuesday.
“The joint patrol was carried out with the aim of deepening Russian-Chinese relations within our all-encompassing partnership, of further increasing cooperation between our armed forces, and of perfecting their capabilities to carry out joint actions and of strengthening global strategic security,” the Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
But the Ministry said its planes did not enter South Korean airspace and claimed South Korean jets never fired any warning shots, adding that the Korean planes performed “unprofessional maneuvers.”
“It was not the first time that South Korean pilots tried unsuccessfully to prevent Russian aircraft from flying over the neutral waters of the Sea of Japan,” the Russian ministry said.