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Defense ministry conducts daily patrol flight to Ieo Island
DECEMBER 10, 2013 07:58  
With the Korea air defense identification zone expanded to cover the nation뭩 flight information region (FIR), the government is speeding up steps to take follow-on measures. The government has beefed up patrol activities in waters around the undersea reef islet of Ieo, and started preparations to hold consultations with neighboring countries including China and Japan.

밃n inter-ministerial consultative meeting is scheduled at 2 p.m. on Tuesday to discuss follow-on measures in the wake of the adjustment of KADIZ, Defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a regular press briefing on Monday. 밠ajor agenda items include follow-on administrative steps following announcement of KADIZ, schedules for consultations with neighboring countries, reinforcement of patrol activities in waters around Ieo islet, and measures concerning commercial airliners. The consultative meeting, which will be chaired by Jang Hyeok, policy planning bureau head at the Defense Ministry, will be attended by working뻦evel officials from related agencies, including the presidential office, the Prime Minister뭩 Office, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Unification Ministry, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, and the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.

For starters, the military has decided to beef up the defense alert level, including expansion of daily patrol activities by maritime patrol aircraft (C-3C) in waters around Ieo islet from two to four times per week. This measure comes because with KADIZ expanded to include areas up to 236 km south of Ieo, the scope of the military뭩 identification and surveillance has significantly expanded. The military also plans to mobilize more often naval destroyers that would conduct patrol activities in waters around Ieo on an irregular basis. A source at the Navy said, 밯e are considering a measure to change the navigational route of Navy ships toward that area when they pass by waters near Ieo islet. The Korea Coast Guard will also likely increase operations of its helicopters and patrol planes (CN-235) to the area.

The Air Force will also step up activities to identify and monitor aircraft that enter KADIZ as well. It will boost its standby readiness to ensure that if a foreign country뭩 airplane entered KADIZ without giving advance notice, it could have its F-15K and KF-16 make a sally immediately. However, even if F-15K and KF-16 aircraft have their fuel tanks filled to the capacity, they can only operate for about 20 minutes and 5 minutes, respectively, around Ieo islet. Hence, some analysts suggest that the Air force needs to relocate some of the F-15K fleet from the Daegu Airbase to a site near Jeju Island, such as the Gwangju Airbase.

Consultations with foreign countries will also pick up speed to prevent accidental military clash in areas of overlapping air defense identifications zones of Korea, China and Japan. After making internal coordination until KADIZ takes effect on this Sunday, the government will make individual contact with Japan and China. In order to discuss overlaps of KADIZ with Japan뭩 ADIZ, the government will reportedly propose to Japan for a Korea-Japan bilateral meeting within this year. The government also plans to hold consultations with China on issues such as informing of flight plans within areas of ADIZs that overlap in waters around Ieo sooner rather than later. Even if KADIZ takes effect on Sunday, the government plans to inform Japan of its flight schedules 30 minutes before flight as it has been until consultations over KADIZ with neighboring countries are completed, but has no plan to inform China separately.

The government is reportedly considering preemptively proposing multilateral consultative meetings for Korea, China and Japan to discuss ADIZ if bilateral consultative meetings between Korea and China and between Korea and Japan are implemented seamlessly. Currently, there are hotlines between Korean and Japanese military authorities, and between Korean and Chinese military authorities, and hence they can engage in reciprocal consultations in the event of emergency. However there is no hotline between China and Japan in place. It means that 뱑oles of Korea as mutual arbitrator of interests between the three countries could escalate.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government displayed a response that Korea뭩 revised KADIZ will pose no problem on its side. Japan뭩 Chief Cabinet Minister Yoshihide Suga told a press conference on Monday, 밒 think there is no element that could pose an immediate problem with our country, suggesting that Tokyo will not raise an issue with it at the government level. In contrast, China continued to display a cautious stance by refraining from expressing any special opinion.

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