At least eight Chinese military planes were seen flying over the Tsushima Strait located between Japan and South Korea.
Japan’s Defense Ministry confirmed to the Kyodo news agency that the planes, including strategic bombers, flew near southwestern Japan.
The group consisted of six Xian H-6 bombers, a Shaanxi Y-9 aircraft, and another plane, the ministry added, according to Kyodo. It said there was no violation of Japanese airspace during the incursion.
According to the news agency, the sighting is the first time since August 2016 that an H-6 was detected flying over the Tsushima Strait.
The aircraft also flew over the Sea of Japan and turned around north of Oki Island in Shimane Prefecture before returning to the East China Sea airspace, Kyodo reported.
Japan scrambled military jets to deal with the Chinese aircraft, reported the Japan Times newspaper.
On Dec. 25, China’s lone aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, along with three guided-missile destroyers and two frigates, sailed into the western Pacific Ocean via a strait between Okinawa and Miyako Island.
A Xian H-6 bomber is a version of the Soviet Tupolev Tu-16 twin-engine jet bomber, which is built for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force. China is estimated to operate around 120 of the planes.
The Y-9, meanwhile, is a medium-size, medium-range transport aircraft. Some variants of the Y-9 can be used for intelligence-gathering purposes.