Japan sent fighter jets to the disputed Diaoyu Islands on Thursday after it detected several Chinese military planes in the area, according to Japanese media. From AFP (via the South China Morning Post):
The Chinese planes were spotted on Japanese military radar north of the islands, known in Japan as the Senkakus, the Fuji TV network and Kyodo news agency reported, quoting Japanese defence ministry officials.
They did not violate territorial airspace over the islands but flew inside Japan’s so-called airdefence identification zone, the report said.
The Japanese defence ministry’s press office did not confirm the report.
The Chinese planes were gone when F-15 jet fighters from an airbase on Japan’s main Okinawan island reached the area, the report said.
The news marks the second time in less than a month that Japan has scrambled fighter jets to the skies above the islets, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands. The December incident, however, involved Chinese state-owned surveillance planes as opposed to People’s Liberation Army aircraft. A Global Times report on Friday noted that while the Japanese Coast Guard told AFP that they were not aware of a Chinese military aircraft presence, a senior Japanese defense ministry official told Japan’s Kyodo News that the aircraft detected included J-7 and J-10 fighter jets.
The Global Times report also had more on the so-called air defense identification zone (ADIZ) where the incident was reported to take place:
An ADIZ is set up by a country or a regional bloc outside its territorial airspace, in which the administrator can scramble fighter jets to intercept unidentified flying objects in the interests of national security, a source from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army air force, told the Global Times.
So far, only a handful of coastal countries, including Japan, have announced their own ADIZ.
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