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Japan Jet Fires Warning at Soviets

December 10, 1987|Associated Press

TOKYO — A Japanese fighter plane fired warning shots at a Soviet bomber Wednesday after the plane violated Japanese airspace, the Defense Agency said. It was the first time in at least 33 years that a Japanese plane had fired on a Soviet aircraft.

The pilot of the Japanese jet fired several bursts of tracer shells from a 20-millimeter cannon, with about 100 shells in each burst, an agency official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The shells could have downed the plane if they had hit it, he said.

Two Japanese F-4EJ Phantoms scrambled from a base in Naha, Okinawa, after radar showed an unidentified plane flying toward Japanese airspace, he said.

The Japanese fighters radioed warnings to the Soviet plane, but they were ignored, he said. One of the fighters fired warning shots as the plane entered Japanese airspace near Okinawa.

The agency official said the plane did not leave Japanese airspace until several more warning bursts were fired.

The official identified the Soviet plane as a medium-range TU-16 Badger bomber. He said the bomber, one of four heading north, entered Japanese airspace twice for a total of 11 minutes.

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