A fighter jet of the South Korean air force crashed on Monday as it scrambled to intercept North Korean drones that had intruded into South Korean airspace, Seoul’s military said.
A South Korean KA-1 light aircraft crashed, some 140 km east of Seoul, at about 11:40 a.m. local time (0240 GMT), Yonhap news agency reported, citing Seoul’s military.
The two pilots aboard escaped safely and were transferred to a nearby hospital. The combat plane fell in a field, and no civilian casualty has been reported yet, Yonhap added.
According to an official cited by Yonhap, the military detected multiple “unidentified objects,” suspected to be unmanned aerial vehicles, in the Gyeonggi-do province bordering on North Korea.
Speaking at a briefing, a Joint Chiefs of Staff official said South Korea’s military “responded to an unknown track presumed to be a North Korean drone in the Gyeonggi area this morning,” denouncing the incident as an “obvious provocation.”
The drones crossed the Military Demarcation Line between the two states, flying over the areas of Gimpo, Ganghwa Island and Paju, the South Korean military claimed.
The official described the drones as small, less than two meters in wingspan, adding that one of the five drones flew as far as northern Seoul.
The incident prompted the South Korean military to send in fighters, helicopters and other aircraft. However, it is unclear whether the drones were carrying any weapons, according to an official from the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.