Chinese military aircraft enter Korean Air Defense Identification Zone

Posted on : 2017-12-19 17:14 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
South Korean jets were scrambled in response to “routine exercise” from the Chinese Air Force
A map showing the Air Defense Identification Zones for China
A map showing the Air Defense Identification Zones for China

Five Chinese military aircraft entered the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) south of Ieo Island for a period of over three hours on Dec. 18 before returning home. China explained the aircraft’s presence as part of a “routine exercise.” In an announcement texted to regular reporters that day, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote, “Five Chinese military aircraft were detected at around 10:10 today entering the KADIZ to the southwest of Ieo Island, and South Korean Air Force aircraft were scrambled [in response].”

“The Chinese aircraft flew to the Japanese Air Defense Identification Zone (JADIZ) before passing back through KADIZ, finally leaving toward China from the western periphery of KADIZ at Ieo Island around 1:47 pm,” the JCS added.

South Korean military authorities immediately contacted military authorities in China by hotline after the Chinese aircraft entered KADIZ.

“We inquired as to the reason for the KADIZ entry, and the Chinese answered that it was a ‘routine exercise’ and that [aircraft] would ‘not be entering South Korean airspace,’” a JCS source said.

An air defense identification zone is the area within a line arbitrarily drawn by a country outside of its territorial airspace for military purposes. In contrast with territorial airspace, exclusive rights are not recognized for such zones by international law. This was the second time in 2017 that Chinese aircraft entered KADIZ, with the previous instance occurring on Jan. 9.

The Chinese aircraft entering KADIZ reportedly included two H-6 bombers, two J-11 fighters, and a TU-154 reconnaissance aircraft. The bombers and fighters entered KADIZ at around 10:10 am and passed through the intersection of the South Korean, Chinese, and Japanese air defense identification zones, flying along JADIZ to the vicinity of Daema Island before making a U-turn and returning to the Chinese side. The reconnaissance aircraft entered KADIZ later at around 11:40 am, passing through the intersection and traveling along JADIZ to the East Sea before turning around and leaving KADIZ and the intersecting area at around 1:47 pm.

“After the Master Control and Reporting Center (MCRC) confirmed that Chinese aircraft were approaching KADIZ, South Korean F-15K and KF-16 fighters were scrambled for normal tactical flights until the aircraft left KADIZ for the last time,” a JCS source said.


By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer

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