(2nd LD) 2 Chinese, 7 Russian warplanes enter S. Korea's air defense zone without notice: JCS

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(ATTN: UPDATES with foreign ministry’s response in last two paras)
By Song Sang-ho and Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) — Two Chinese and seven Russian military aircraft entered South Korea’s air defense identification zone (KADIZ) without notice on Friday, prompting the country’s Air Force to scramble its warplanes to the scene, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Between around 11 a.m. and 16:38 p.m., the warplanes separately entered the KADIZ northeast of South Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo and moved out of it, the JCS said, noting that none of them violated South Korea’s territorial air.
Each plane flew over the KADIZ for about 10 minutes.
Prior to their entry, the South Korean military deployed F-15 and F-16 fighter jets and a KC-330 tanker plane to the scene in a “normal tactical step” to prepare against a possible contingency, the JCS said.
It is the first time South Korea has mobilized a tanker for such a KADIZ-related incident, the military said.
Through a communication line, the Chinese authorities told the South Korean military that their aircraft staged a “routine” exercise.
South Korean officials said that the Chinese and Russian aircraft’s entry into the KADIZ appear to be as part of their combined exercise, pointing out they need further analysis.
The air defense zone is not territorial airspace, but is zoned off to call on foreign planes to identify themselves so as to prevent accidental clashes.
The foreign ministry has shared related information with the defense ministry and expressed regret over the incident to the Chinese and Russian sides, according to Seoul officials.
“The ministry has expressed regret to the Chinese and Russian sides via diplomatic channels and called for measures to prevent future recurrence,” a foreign ministry official said.
sshluck@yna.co.kr
colin@yna.co.kr
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