The fighter jets "took tactical action" against Russian and Chinese warplanes for violating South Korean airspace. But Russia has denied the allegations, saying the joint patrol was operating in international airspace.
South Korea's Defense Ministry on Tuesday said its fighter jets fired hundreds of warning shots after Russian and Chinese planes entered the country's airspace.
The Russian and Chinese warplanes were flying in the first joint operation of its kind, according to Moscow. South Korea scrambled F-16 fighters to intercept the Russian and Chinese warplanes, saying they were not authorized to enter its airspace.
"The South Korean military took tactical action including dropping flares and firing warning shots," the South Korean ministry said.
The alleged airspace violation occurred over the Dokdo islets, which are occupied by South Korea but also claimed by Japan. Tokyo also lodged complaints with South Korea and Russia.
'Perfecting' joint actions
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry denied that its aircraft had illegally entered South Korean airspace. It said the joint operation was part of a new air patrol between Russia and China.
"The joint patrol was carried out with the aim of deepening Russian-Chinese relations within our all-encompassing partnership, of further increasing cooperation between our armed forces, and of perfecting their capabilities to carry out joint actions, and of strengthening global strategic security," the ministry said.
From the Sea of Japan to the South China Sea, tensions between regional military powers have risen over the past decade.
South Korea said the incident was the first time since fighting ended in the 1950-53 Korean War that a foreign military aircraft had entered its airspace without permission.
ls,cw,jm/se (AP, Reuters, AFP)