Japan, South Korea scramble fighter jets to intercept Chinese spy plane
A Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Shaanxi Y-9JB electronic warfare and surveillance plane set off alarms by flying near Japan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) a short time after entering South Korea’s ADIZ in late February 2019, causing both countries to scramble fighter jets to intercept the Chinese spy plane.
The PLAAF plane first appeared on radar near disputed islands in the Yellow Sea, where South Korea maintains a science station, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. A short time later, the plane also appeared on radar over the Sea of Japan, Yonhap reported.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense reported that Japanese airspace was not violated, however radar detection of the PLAAF crossing the Sea of Japan and East China Sea via the Tsushima Strait caused the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) to scramble its fighter jets in response to the PLAAF for the first time since late December 2018, according to online news magazine The Diplomat.
The PLAAF and People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force typically fly surveillance patrols over the East China Sea and Sea of Japan every four weeks, The Diplomat reported. Through September 2018, the JASDF had intercepted 345 Chinese aircraft, which amounted to an increase of 58 sorties compared to the 2017 fiscal year, according to The Diplomat.
Just a week before the PLAAF incident, according to The Diplomat, the JASDF intercepted four nuclear-capable Russian Tupolev Tu-95MS strategic bombers and four Sukhoi Su-35S fighter jets flying in two separate formations over the east and west coasts of Japan.