(ATTN: RECASTS title, lead with latest info; UPDATES paras 2-5 with details; CHANGES photo)
By Oh Seok-min
SEOUL, Oct. 22 (Yonhap) -- Six Russian military aircraft violated South Korea's air defense identification zone on Tuesday, prompting the Air Force to scramble fighter jets to turn them back, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
An A-50 early-warning aircraft, three SU-27 fighter jets and two TU-95 bombers entered the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) between 9:23 a.m. and 2:44 p.m. over the country's easternmost islets of Dokdo, the southern island of Jeju and areas in the Yellow Sea without prior notice, according to the JCS.
They finally left the zone at around 3:13 p.m., the JCS said, adding that none of the aircraft violated South Korea's territorial airspace.
Upon detecting the first plane entering KADIZ over the eastern island of Ulleung, the South Korean Air Force immediately sent fighters, including F-15K jets, which "had taken due measures" to force them out, according to the JCS.
The latest violation brought the total number of entries by Russian aircraft into KADIZ so far this year to 20.
On July 23, a Russian A-50 aircraft intruded into South Korea's territorial airspace over Dokdo twice, leading the Air Force to fire hundreds of warning shots.
The intrusion came shortly after two other Russian aircraft and two Chinese military aircraft breached the KADIZ between Dokdo and Ulleung Island several times in unusual joint air maneuvers between the two countries.
In August, two Russian TU-142 patrol planes also violated the KADIZ over the East Sea.
In order to prevent such cases, South Korea and Russia have been pushing to set up a military hotline between their air forces to exchange their flight information, according to Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
The two sides began discussing the matter in 2004 and wrapped up consultations on the draft of the envisioned MOU in November last year, it added.
The air defense zone was first drawn in 1951 by the U.S. Air Force during the 1950-53 Korean War to prevent air clashes between nations surrounding the Korean Peninsula. Last year, Seoul expanded it to counter China's unilateral decision to expand its own to cover a reef and other islands off the southern coast.
The air zone is not part of a country's air space and not bound by international law.