Airspace violation row leads to aerial encounter between South Korea, Russia and China

It was an airspace violation row when a Russian A-50 spy plane entered South Korea’s airspace and it sent its F-15 and F-16 fighters to fire warning shots at the intruder.


Airspace violation row can be by accident or by design. In this case, the intention is not clear. Seoul says a Russian A-50 spy plane violated its territorial airspace. Therefore, it had to scramble its F-15 and F-16 fighters. They tried to contact the pilots. Since there was no response, they fired warning shots at the intruder. The incident happened near Takeshima. This is a set of islands in the Sea of Japan and both South Korea and Japan claim it to be theirs. It seems two Russian TU-95 bombers and two Chinese H-6 bombers flew over Takeshima. However, Russia denied violation of South Korean airspace and said Seoul’s jets did not contact Russian pilots. Moreover, they fired flares and not bullets. China also denied violating anyone’s airspace. It described South Korea as a ‘friendly neighbor’. Moscow clarified it was conducting an air patrol exercise with China in the region.

Chinese Air Force H-6k bomber promo video goes viral. [Image source/New China TV YouTube video]

Airspace violation row can be sensitive

Russia said its exercise did not target any particular country. Incidentally, Japan also scrambled its fighters to intercept the Russian spy plane. In such cases, everyone wants to play safe. Japan was also tracking the Russian and Chinese bombers. No one wants to disturb world peace. While Russia and China follow same ideology, Japan and South Korea are allies of the United States. However, Moon Jae-in president of South Korea went on a State Visit to Russia in 2018. He became the first South Korean leader to speak in Russia’s parliament. During the visit, he signed a couple of agreement.

South Korean fighter jets intercept Russian Tu-95 bomber. [Image source/Pravda Report YouTube video]

South Korea lodged official protest

The airspace violation incident has forced South Korea to register an official protest with both Russia and Beijing. In 1983, the Soviets fired an air-to-air missile at a South Korean passenger plan. It had strayed into Soviet territory and all 269 people on board died. The flight was a Korean Air Lines Flight bound for New York via Anchorage. The aircraft deviated from its planned route during a US reconnaissance mission. Soviet planes intercepted it and shot it down presuming it to be a spy plane that violated its airspace.

Tourists in Takeshima island Gamagori. [Image source/A-Suka Kimi YouTube video]

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