South Korea responds to China and Russia entering their Air Defense Zone by scrambling Jets. Japan has to do the same

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • South Korea scrambles fighter jets after Chinese and Russian warplanes enter air defense zone
  • Two Chinese H-6 bombers are spotted repeatedly entering and leaving the zone and later returned from the Sea of Japan with six Russian warplanes, the South Korean military says.
  • “Our military dispatched air force fighter jets ahead of the Chinese and Russian aircraft’s entry of the KADIZ to implement tactical measures in preparation for a potential contingency,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
  • Japan also scrambled fighter jets after the Chinese bombers flew from the East China Sea into the Sea of Japan, where they were joined by two Russian drones, its defense ministry said later.
  • An air defense zone is an area in which countries demand that foreign aircraft take special steps to identify themselves.
  • Moscow does not recognize South Korea’s air defense zone. Beijing said the zone is not territorial airspace and all countries should enjoy freedom of movement there.

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180 North Korean Flights near the Armistice line, South Korea scrambles jets

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • South Korea scrambles jets as North Korea launches 180 flights on border
  • North Korean military forces were detected flying just north of the tactical line, also known as the Armistice Line, which was established in 1953 and formally ended the Korean War, first reported Reuters.
  • The aggressive show of force in North Korea’s air space came just hours after Washington and Seoul extended joint military drills, and some 240 aircraft continued with the largest ever U.S.-South Korea military exercises, dubbed “Vigilant Storm.”
  • South Korea responded to the surge by scrambling 80 aircraft, including F-35A stealth fighters.

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Taipei shoots down Chinese drone; Beijing sends 14 fighter jets across Taiwan

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Beijing sends 14 fighter jets across Taiwan Strait after Taipei’s military shot down a drone in its airspace off the Chinese coast
  • The Chinese fighter jets crossed the unofficial territorial barrier with Taiwan
  • Earlier, Taiwan’s military shot down a civilian drone for the first time
  • The government vowed to be tougher on airspace intrusions from China

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Turkey’s Russian air defense systems and U.S. response

(Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan this week flagged potential further cooperation with Russia on defense industry projects including fighter jets and submarines even as the United States warned it could respond with more sanctions.

Turkey received the first deliveries of the S-400 surface-to-air systems in July 2019, prompting Washington to begin removing the NATO ally from its F-35 stealth fighter program over security concerns.

The following timeline presents the main developments in the program and Ankara’s relations with the United States.

Dec. 29, 2017 – Turkey and Russia sign an accord on deliveries of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, reportedly worth around $2.5 billion.

June 19, 2018 – A U.S. Senate committee passes a spending bill that includes a provision to block Turkey’s purchase of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets unless it drops the plan to buy the S-400s.

March 28, 2019 – U.S. Senators introduce a bipartisan bill to prohibit the transfer of F-35s to Turkey unless the U.S. administration certifies that Ankara will not take delivery of the S-400s.

June 7, 2019 – The United States decides to stop accepting any additional Turkish pilots to train on F-35 fighter jets.

July 17, 2019 – The United States says it was removing Turkey from the F-35 program; Ellen Lord, Undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and sustainment, says Turkey would no longer receive more than $9 billion in projected work.

July 25, 2019 – Russia completes the first shipment of its S-400 systems to Turkey, according to Turkish military officials.

Sept. 15, 2019 – Turkey’s defense ministry confirms delivery of a second battery of S-400s.

Nov. 12, 2020 – Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar says Turkey is ready to discuss U.S. concerns about the technical compatibility of Russian S-400 defense systems and U.S.-made F-35 jets, renewing Ankara’s call for a joint working group with Washington on the issue.

March 24, 2021 – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, urges Ankara to drop the S-400 system. In the same meeting, Cavusoglu told his U.S. counterpart that its purchase was “a done deal.”

July 21, 2021 – U.S. President Joe Biden is committed to maintaining sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for buying Russian missile defenses and would impose further sanctions if Ankara bought further major arms systems from Moscow, according to a senior U.S. diplomat.

Aug. 23, 2021 – The Interfax new agency reports the head of Russia’s arms exporter as saying Russia and Turkey were close to signing a new contract to supply Ankara with more S-400s in the near future.

Sept. 26, 2021 – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey still intends to buy a second batch of missile defense systems from Russia.

Sept. 30, 2021 – Turkey is considering more joint defense industry programs with Russia including fighter jets and submarines, President Erdogan says after talks with President Vladimir Putin. Erdogan did not mention further S-400 purchases or U.S. sanctions, but said “Turkey would not back down.”

(Compiled by Oben Mumcuoglu and Berna Syuleymanoglu in Gdansk; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Daren Butler)

China holds assault drills near Taiwan after ‘provocations’

By Yew Lun Tian and Yimou Lee

BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) -China carried out assault drills near Taiwan on Tuesday, with warships and fighter jets exercising off the southwest and southeast of the island in what the country’s armed forces said was a response to “external interference” and “provocations”.

Taiwan, which Beijing claims as Chinese territory, has complained of repeated People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drills in its vicinity in the past two years or so, part of a pressure campaign to force the island to accept China’s sovereignty.

In a brief statement, the PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command said warships, anti-submarine aircraft and fighter jets had been dispatched close to Taiwan to carry out “joint fire assault and other drills using actual troops”.

It did not give details.

A senior official familiar with Taiwan’s security planning told Reuters that China’s air force had carried out a “capturing air supremacy” drill, using their advanced J-16 fighters.

“In addition to seeking air supremacy over Taiwan, they have also been conducting frequent electronic reconnaissance and electronic interference operations,” the person said.

Taiwan believes China is trying to gather electronic signals from U.S. and Japanese aircraft so that they can “paralyze reinforcing aircraft including F-35s in a war,” the source said, referring to the U.S.-operated stealth fighter.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said 11 Chinese aircraft entered its air defense zone, including two nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and six J-16 fighters, and that it had scrambled jets to warn China’s planes away.

While the Chinese statement gave no exact location for the drills, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the aircraft flew in an area between mainland Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands at the top part of the South China Sea.

Some of the aircraft also briefly entered the strategic Bashi Channel off southern Taiwan that leads to the Pacific, according to a map provided by the ministry.

“The nation’s military has a full grasp and has made a full assessment of the situation in the Taiwan Strait region, as well as related developments at sea and in the air, and is prepared for various responses,” it added.

The PLA statement noted that recently, the United States and Taiwan have “repeatedly colluded in provocation and sent serious wrong signals, severely infringing upon China’s sovereignty, and severely undermining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.

“This exercise is a necessary action based on the current security situation across the Taiwan Strait and the need to safeguard national sovereignty. It is a solemn response to external interference and provocations by Taiwan independence forces.”

It was not immediately clear what set off the flurry of Chinese military activity, though earlier this month, the United States approved a new arms sale package to Taiwan, an artillery system valued at up to $750 million.

China believes Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is a separatist bent on a formal declaration of independence, a red line for Beijing. Tsai said Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.

Washington has expressed its concern about China’s pattern of intimidation in the region, including towards Taiwan, reiterating that U.S. commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid.”

China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian and Yimou Lee; Writing and additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Simon Cameron-Moore and Bernadette Baum)

Taiwan scrambles jets as 18 Chinese planes buzz during U.S. visit

By Ben Blanchard and Yew Lun Tian

TAIPEI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Taiwan scrambled fighter jets on Friday as 18 Chinese aircraft buzzed the island, crossing the sensitive mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, in response to a senior U.S. official holding talks in Taipei.

China had earlier announced combat drills and denounced what it called collusion between the island, which it claims as part of its territory, and the United States.

U.S. Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach arrived in Taipei on Thursday for a three-day visit, the most senior State Department official to come to Taiwan in four decades – to which China had promised a “necessary response.”

The U.S. State Department has said Krach, who arrived in Taipei on Thursday afternoon, is in Taiwan for a memorial service on Saturday for former President Lee Teng-hui, who was revered by many on the island and internationally as the father of Taiwan’s democracy.

But Beijing has watched with growing alarm the ever-closer relationship between Taipei and Washington, and has stepped up military exercises near the island, including two days of large-scale air and sea drills last week.

With a U.S. presidential election looming in November, Sino-U.S. relations are already under huge strain from a trade war, U.S. digital security concerns and the coronavirus pandemic.

Taiwan said 18 Chinese aircraft were involved on Friday, far more than in previous such encounters and entered its southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

“Sep. 18, two H-6 bombers, eight J-16 fighters, four J-10 fighters and four J-11 fighters crossed the mid-line of the TaiwanStrait and entered Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ,” the defense ministry said in an English-language tweet.

Combat aircraft from both sides normally avoid passing through the Taiwan Strait mid-line.

“ROCAF scrambled fighters, and deployed air defense missile system to monitor the activities.” The ROCAF, Taiwan’s air force, has scrambled frequently in recent months in response to Chinese intrusions.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has led the Trump administration’s rhetorical offensive against China, accused Beijing of bluster when asked about the Chinese activity.

“We sent the delegation to a funeral, and the Chinese have apparently responded by military blustering. I’ll leave it at that,” he told a news conference on a visit to Guyana.

In a statement, the Pentagon said it was another example of China using its military as a tool of coercion.

“The PLA’s aggressive and destabilizing reactions reflect a continued attempt to alter the status quo and rewrite history,” a Pentagon spokesman said, using an acronym for China’s People’s Liberation Army.

The ministry showed a map of the flight paths of Chinese jets crossing the mid-line.

Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper said Taiwanese jets had scrambled 17 times over four hours, warning China’s air force to stay away. It also showed a picture of missiles being loaded onto an F-16 fighter at the Hualien air base on Taiwan’s east coast.

‘REASONABLE, NECESSARY ACTION’

In Beijing, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said Friday’s maneuvers, about which he gave no details, involved the People’s Liberation Army’s eastern theater command.

“They are a reasonable, necessary action aimed at the current situation in the Taiwan Strait and protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ren said.

He said Taiwan was a purely internal Chinese affair and accused its ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of stepping up “collusion” with the United States.

Trying to “use Taiwan to control China” or “rely on foreigners to build oneself up” was wishful thinking and futile. “Those who play with fire will get burnt,” Ren said.

Taiwan’s presidential office urged China to exercise restraint, and urged the Taiwanese not to be alarmed, saying the military had a grasp on the situation.

Government officials in Taiwan, including President Tsai Ing-wen, have expressed concern in recent weeks that an accidental military encounter could spark a wider conflict.

Hu Xijin, editor of China’s widely read state-backed Global Times tabloid, wrote on his Weibo microblog that the drills were preparation for an attack on Taiwan should the need arise, and that they enabled intelligence-gathering about Taiwan’s defense systems.

“If the U.S. secretary of state or defense secretary visits Taiwan, People’s Liberation Army fighters should fly over Taiwan island, and directly exercise in the skies above it,” he added.

Chinese fighter jets briefly crossed the mid-line last month while U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar was in Taipei, and last week China carried out two days of large-scale drills off Taiwan’s southwestern coast.

The United States, like most countries, has official ties only with China, not Taiwan, though Washington is the island’s main arms supplier and most important international backer.

This week, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations had lunch with Taiwan’s top envoy in New York. China’s U.N. mission said it had lodged “stern representations” over the meeting.

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian in Beijing and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Additional reportnmg by David Brunnstrom and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)

U.S. military says Russia deployed fighter jets to Libya

TUNIS (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Tuesday that Russia has deployed fighter aircraft to Libya to support Russian mercenaries fighting for eastern forces, adding to concerns of a new escalation in the conflict.

“Russian military aircraft are likely to provide close air support and offensive fire,” the United States Africa command said in a statement it posted on its website and on Twitter.

Libya’s civil war has drawn in regional and global powers with what the United Nations has called a huge influx of weapons and fighters in violation of an arms embargo.

Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt support the eastern-based Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which launched an offensive last year to seize the capital Tripoli.

However, in recent weeks the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) has with extensive Turkish backing pushed Haftar back from his foothold in southern Tripoli and from some other parts of the northwest.

The United States has played a less prominent role in the Libyan war than it did at an earlier stage when NATO helped rebels overthrow the country’s autocratic ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

The statement said the aircraft had arrived from an airbase in Russia after transiting via Syria, where they were repainted to conceal their Russian origin. There was no immediate response from the Russian Defence Ministry to a request for comment.

On Saturday, Russian fighters in Libya were flown out of a town south of Tripoli by their Libyan allies after retreating from frontlines in Tripoli, the town’s mayor said.

The LNA has denied any foreigners are fighting with it, but the United Nations said this month that Russian private military contractor Wagner Group had up to 1,200 people in Libya.

“Russia has employed state-sponsored Wagner in Libya to conceal its direct role and to afford Moscow plausible deniability of its malign actions,” the U.S. statement said.

It quoted U.S. Air Force General Jeff Harrigian as warning that if Russia seized bases on Libya’s coast, it would “create very real security concerns on Europe’s southern flank”.

The statement said neither the LNA nor mercenaries would be able to “arm, operate and sustain these fighters” — meaning fighter aircraft — without the support they had from Russia. Last week the LNA announced it would be launching a major new air campaign against the GNA and said it had refurbished four war jets.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Additional reporting by Andrew Osborne in Moscow; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean)

Democratic, Republican lawmakers back $8 billion F-16 sale to Taiwan

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter taking part in the U.S.-led Saber Strike exercise flies over Estonia June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

By Bryan Pietsch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congress should move quickly with an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan as China “seeks to extend its authoritarian reach” over the region, leading U.S. Democratic and Republican lawmakers said on Friday.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, a Republican, said in a statement that he welcomed the sale of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-16 jets to boost Taiwan’s “ability to defend its sovereign airspace, which he said is “under increasing pressure” from China.

The deal “sends a strong message” about U.S. commitment to security and democracy in the region, House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot and Michael McCaul, the panel’s ranking Republican, said in a joint statement.

They said the move will deter China as Beijing threatens “our strategic partner Taiwan and its democratic system of government.”

The United States is the main arms supplier to Taiwan, which China deems a wayward province. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the self-governed island under its control.

Senator Marco Rubio urged Congress to move forward with the deal, which he said in a statement is “an important step in support of Taiwan’s self-defense efforts” as China “seeks to extend its authoritarian reach” in the region.

Senator Ted Cruz said in a statement that it is critical “now more than ever” for Taiwan to boost its defense capabilities.

After the United States approved sales of tanks and Raytheon Co’s <RTN.N> anti-aircraft Stinger missiles to Taiwan in July, China said it was “ready to go to war” if people “try to split Taiwan from the country.”

Beijing said it would impose sanctions on U.S. companies involved in any deals. The United States and China are embroiled in a wider trade war.

On Thursday, Taiwan unveiled its largest defense spending increase in more than a decade, to T$411.3 billion ($13.11 billion.)

The United States has no formal ties with self-ruled and democratic Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide it with the means to defend itself. China has repeatedly denounced U.S. arms sales to the island.

(Reporting by Bryan Pietsch; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Russia, South Korea trade conflicting claims over alleged airspace intrusion

A Russian A-50 military aircraft flies near the disputed islands called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, in this handout picture taken by Japan Air Self-Defence Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan July 23, 2019. Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/HANDOUT via REUTERS

By Maria Kiselyova and Hyonhee Shin

MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) – Russia’s embassy in Seoul on Wednesday said that Moscow had not apologized for an alleged airspace violation the previous day after South Korea said that a Russian attache had expressed “deep regret” and blamed malfunctioning equipment.

A Russian military aircraft entered airspace near a group of islets claimed by both South Korea and Japan on Tuesday, during a long-range joint air patrol with Chinese jets, according to South Korea and Japan, which both scrambled fighter jets in response.

South Korean warplanes fired flares and hundreds of warning shots near the Russian aircraft, and the incident triggered a round of diplomatic protests by countries in the region.

An unidentified Russian military attache in Seoul told South Korean officials on Tuesday that the plane appeared to have “entered an unplanned area due to a device malfunction”, said Yoon Do-han, South Korea’s presidential press secretary.

“Russia has conveyed its deep regret over the incident and said its defense ministry would immediately launch an investigation and take all necessary steps,” Yoon said.

“The officer said such a situation would have never occurred if it followed the initially planned route.”

Hours later, Russia’s embassy in Seoul said there had been no apology.

“The Russian side did not make an official apology,” the embassy in Seoul said, adding it had noted many inaccuracies in the comments by South Korea, Interfax reported.

The incident comes at a delicate time for a region that has for years been overshadowed by hostility between the United States and North Korea and has recently seen a flare-up in tension between South Korea and Japan.

Russia’s public statements on the issue have not mentioned any technical problems, nor has Russia announced any investigation or acknowledged a violation of South Korean airspace.

Yoon said in a later briefing that after the attache admitted a possible mistake and expressed regret, which was taken as Moscow’s official position, Russia “altered” its account by sending a document stating that it did not violate any airspace.

Russia also accused South Korean fighter jets of threatening the safety of Russian aircraft by interfering with their flight and failing to communicate, Yoon said.

Seoul’s defense ministry said Russia was “distorting the truth” and it had evidence to support its claim.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense did not respond to a request to clarify the conflicting accounts.

“The document says that they might take a responsive measure if similar flights by the South Korean Air Force recur,” Yoon said.

An official at the defense ministry earlier told reporters it believed the intrusion could not have resulted from a system error.

He did not elaborate, but another official told Reuters that the two countries plan to hold working-level talks on Thursday in Seoul to clarify what happened.

While troops and naval ships from Russia and China have taken part in joint war games before, they have not conducted such air patrols in the Asia-Pacific region together, according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

China’s defense ministry said on Wednesday that China and Russia did not enter the airspace of any other country during their joint patrols on Tuesday.

South Korea and Japan scrambled fighter jets because both claim sovereignty over the disputed islets called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan.

The two U.S. allies are mired in a deepening political and trade dispute, which fanned concerns that it might undercut three-way security cooperation to fend off North Korea’s nuclear threats.

The incident also coincided with the visit of U.S. national security adviser John Bolton to South Korea.

Bolton and his counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, discussed the suspected airspace breach during a meeting on Wednesday and vowed close consultations in case of more such incidents, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova in Moscow and Hyonhee Shin in Seoul; Additional reporting by Joyce Lee and Josh Smith in Seoul, and Andrew Osborn in Moscow; Editing by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie)

Trump plans tanks and flyovers at Fourth of July celebration in Washington

U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania Trump wave from the Truman Balcony during a fireworks display celebrating Independence Day at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

By Andy Sullivan and Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Monday that he plans to display battle tanks on Washington’s National Mall as part of a pumped-up Fourth of July celebration that will also feature flyovers by fighter jets and other displays of military prowess.

The military hardware is just one new element in a U.S. Independence Day pageant that will depart significantly from the nonpartisan, broadly patriotic programs that typically draw hundreds of thousands of people to the monuments in downtown Washington.

An M1 Abrams tank sits atop a flat car in a rail yard after U.S. President Donald Trump said tanks and other military hardware would be part of of a Fourth of July display in Washington, U.S., July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Fogarty

An M1 Abrams tank sits atop a flat car in a rail yard after U.S. President Donald Trump said tanks and other military hardware would be part of of a Fourth of July display in Washington, U.S., July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Fogarty

While past presidents have traditionally kept a low profile on July 4, Trump plans to deliver a speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

Also on the agenda are an extended fireworks display and flyovers by Air Force One, the custom Boeing 747 used by U.S. presidents, and the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels jet squadron.

“I’m going to say a few words, and we’re going to have planes going overhead,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “And we’re going to have tanks stationed outside.”

Democrats in Congress have accused Trump of hijacking the event to boost his re-election prospects in 2020. They have also questioned how much the event will cost the cash-strapped National Park Service.

Trump has pushed for a military parade in Washington since he marveled at the Bastille Day military parade in Paris in 2017. His administration postponed a parade that had been planned for Veterans Day in November 2018 after costs ballooned to $90 million, three times the initial estimate.

Trump said modern M1 Abrams tanks and World War Two-era Sherman tanks would both be on display. District of Columbia officials have said the heavy military equipment could damage city streets.

“You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks, so we have to put them in certain areas,” Trump said.

The antiwar group Code Pink said it had secured permits to fly a “Baby Trump” blimp, depicting the president in diapers, during his speech. “Babies need enormous amounts of attention and are unable to gauge the consequences of their behavior – just like Donald Trump,” co-founder Medea Benjamin said in a news release.

The Interior Department, which oversees the event, has not said how much the event will cost. Two fireworks firms will put on a 35-minute display for free, which the agency said was equal to a donation of $700,000.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Diane Craft and Peter Cooney)