CHINA TOPIX

Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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China Warns US' B1-B Lancer Bomber Flyover in Disputed Airspace

FILE PHOTO B-1 Bomber

(Photo : Getty Images) A B-1B Lancer from the U.S. Air Force 28th Air Expeditionary Wing heads out on a combat mission in support of strikes on Afghanistan in this image released December 7, 2001.

China issued a radio warning on Tuesday to an American B1-B Lancer Bomber flying over the contested East China Sea last week, complaining that the bomber illegally entered China's airspace and ordered it to leave.

The pilots reportedly responded and said they were conducting routine operations within the international airspace and did not deviate. CNN reported that the aircraft was flying around 130 kilometers southwest of South Korea's Jeju Island, about 500 kilometers from Shanghai.

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Although China claimed that the airspace is part of its Air Defense Identification Zone, the US and its allies still continue to identify it as an international airspace. The region where the B1-B was flying over includes a chain of islands that has overlapping territorial claims by China, Japan, and South Korea.

Hawaii-based Pacific Air Forces Command tweeted a photo on Friday of the B-1 Lancer that lead to an aerial formation over the East China Sea, with a caption saying "A B-1B Lancer completed bilateral training missions alongside our Japanese and Korean allies. The sorties were part of US Pacific Command's continuous presence mission and helped to improve tactical skills and interoperability between the United States Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force and the [Japan Air Self Defense Force]."

The two B1-Bs reportedly flew in formation with South Korean fighter jets and took part of the simulated bombing missions at the Kunsan Air Base. Although the deployment occurred amid a growing pressure on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul considered it of "great significance." The bomber also took part in a training with the Japanese air force.

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