Japan and South Korea scramble jets to track Russian and Chinese bomber patrols, with video

Joint Russia and China patrol over the Pacific signals stronger military ties between Moscow and Beijing. Both Japan and South Korea scrambled fighter jets to track the bombers.
December 23, 2020 | 16:07
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A year and a half after Russia and China's first joint aerial patrol over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea, Russian and Chinese bombers carried out another joint patrol in the area.

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A Chinese H-6K bomber being intercepted by a Taiwanese F-16 fighter earlier this year. Photograph: Taiwan defence ministry/AFP

Bomber aircraftof both nations participated in the exercise, which highlights the close strategic ties between the two nations. "China sent four H-6K bombers and Russia sent two Tu-95 bombers, as the warplanes formed a formation and patrolled the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea," Global Times quoted China's Ministry of National Defense as saying on Tuesday.

Japan and South Korea scramble jets to track Russian and Chinese bomber patrol
A Chinese H-6K bomber | China's Ministry of National Defense. Photo: theweek.in

Both Japan and South Korea scrambled fighter jets to track the bombers, which flew over the "disputed Takeshima/Dokdo islands," Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.

The first such strategic patrol by Russia and China happened in July 2019, with bomber aircraft flying over the same water bodies.

South Korea said Tuesday that it had scrambled fighter jets in response to an intrusion by 19 Russian and Chinese military aircraft.

Four Chinese aircraft entered the Korea Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ) followed by 15 Russian aircraft, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. This incident seems to be a joint military drill between china and russia but it requires further analysis, the chiefs of staff said in statement, cited from theguardian.

Japan and South Korea have scrambled fighter jets to track Russian and Chinese bombers which flown a joint patrol mission over the western Pacific in a show of increasingly close military ties between Moscow and Beijing.

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A Russian A-50 military aircraft near the disputed islands called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, July 23, 2019. Japanese Defense Ministry via Reuters

The Russian military said a pair of its Tu-95 strategic bombers and four Chinese H-6K bombers flew over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea on Tuesday.

Japan’s air self-defence forces scrambled fighter jets to track the bombers, which flew over the disputed Takeshima/Dokdo islands in the Sea of Japan, the Kyodo news agency said, quoting the defence ministry.

The islands are controlled by South Korea but also claimed by Japan. The Russian and Chinese planes also flew over the Tsushima Strait separating Japan and the southernmost point of the Korean peninsula, as well as an area near the southern island of Okinawa, home to tens of thousands of US troops, according to the businessinsider.

Japan's Defense Ministry released photos of the Russian and Chinese bombers and a map of their flight route, showing them flying through the Ryukyu Islands and through the Korea Strait between Japan and South Korea.

Japan and south korea scramble jets to track russian chinese bomber patrol
A map of the flight routes of Russian and Chinese bombers during a joint patrol over the East China Sea and Sea of Japan on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. Japanese Ministry of Defense

The South Korean military and foreign ministry both contact their Russian and Chinese counterparts to express their concerns over the incident.

Russia’s defence ministry said the joint mission was intended to “develop and deepen the comprehensive Russia-China partnership, further increase the level of cooperation between the two militaries, expand their ability for joint action and strengthen strategic stability”.

The ministry added that the patrol flight “wasn’t directed against any third countries”.

Tuesday’s mission was the second such flight since a July 2019 patrol over the same area.

It follows the Russian president Vladimir Putin’s statement in October that the idea of a future Russia-China military alliance could not be ruled out – a signal of deepening military cooperation between Moscow and Beijing amid growing tensions in their relations with the US.

Until that moment, Russia and China had hailed their “strategic partnership” but rejected any talk about the possibility of forming a military alliance.

Putin also noted in October that Russia had been sharing highly sensitive military technologies with China that helped significantly bolster its defence capability.

Russia has sought to develop stronger ties with China as its relations with the west deteriorated to post-cold war lows over issues such as Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

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Tarah Nguyen
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