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Japan says fighter jets scramble after Russian military aircraft violates airspace

A Japan Air Self Defense Force F-2A (529) lands at Andersen Air Force Base to participate in the two-week Cope North exercise. The Japanese F-2 single-engine fighter has performance capabilities roughly comparable to those of the U.S. F-16. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Courtney Witt)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Japanese military says its fighter jets were forced to scramble after two Russian military aircraft violated its airspace.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement on June 20 that two Russian TU-95 bombers approached southern Japanese islands, including Kyushu, from the north before heading north toward the Japanese mainland.

The ministry said one of the bombers violated Japanese airspace twice over the Daito Islands near Okinawa and near Hachijo Island, south of the capital, Tokyo.

The two aircraft then flew along northeastern Japan and the island of Hokkaido before returning to Russia, the ministry said.

The Russian military did not immediately comment on the report.

A recent report by the Japanese ministry said its fighter jets had scrambled nearly 1,000 times against foreign aircraft approaching its airspace in the past fiscal year ending on March 31.

More than 340 incidents involved Russian aircraft and 638 involved Chinese planes, it said.

U.S., NATO, and Russian militaries regular report incidents of foreign aircraft violating or coming near their airspace, forcing planes to scramble in defense. No shooting incidents have been reported.