S.Korea, Japan scramble jets as China, Russia warplanes enter Seoul’s defence zone

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea scrambled fighter jets on Thursday when two Chinese and four Russian military planes entered its air defence zone, South Korea’s military said.

The aircraft entered the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) off its east coast between 11:53 a.m. (0253 GMT) and 12:10 p.m. and then left the area, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

The planes did not violate South Korea’s territorial airspace, the military said.

Japan also scrambled jets to monitor Chinese and Russian bombers and fighters conducting joint flights on Thursday, according to its defence ministry. Aircraft including China’s H-6, J-16, Y-8 and Russia’s Tu-95, Su-35 were spotted flying toward East China Sea through the channel between Japan and South Korea, the ministry said.

An ADIZ is usually an area where countries may unilaterally demand that foreign aircraft take special steps to identify themselves, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

That is different from a nation’s airspace, which usually means the space above its territory, extending 12 nautical miles away from its coastline.

Unlike airspace, there are no international laws that govern air defence zones.

Moscow does not recognise Korea’s air defence zone. Beijing has said the zone is not territorial airspace and all countries should enjoy freedom of movement there.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park in Seoul; Additional reporting by Kantaro Komiya in Tokyo; Editing by Ed Davies)