Russian, Chinese warplanes briefly enter South Korean air defence zone

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South Korea said it scrambled fighter jets as Russian and Chinese warplanes briefly entered its air defence identification zone (AFP/KIM JAE-HWAN)

South Korea scrambled fighters on Friday as Russian and Chinese warplanes on a joint exercise briefly entered its air defence 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 JCS 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 refuelling tanker as a "normal tactical measure" as the Russian and Chinese planes approached the zone, the JCS added.

The incursion happened northeast of Dokdo -- islets that are also claimed by Japan, which calls them Takeshima.

Air defence 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 recognise such zones.

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