The recent arrival of the Rafale jets from France has caused quite a stir on social media. One of the advancements of the fighter jets that amazed several Indians is their ability to be refuelled mid-air.
Following which, several videos went viral on social media claiming that they captured the mid-air refuelling of the Rafale jets on their first journey from France to India.
The Quint identified three such videos with misleading claims. One video is of a Brazilian A-4 fighter jet, one is a 2016 video of the French Air Force Dassault Rafale F2 and one shows the US Navy F-18 jet being refuelled mid-air.
VIDEO 1: BRAZILIAN FIGHTER JET SHARED AS RAFALE
The video showing an air-plane with a refuelling contraption was widely shared as the Rafale jet on its way to India.
But a reverse image search of the key-frames of the video led us to the official twitter handle of the Brazilian Air Force (@fab_oficial) that shared the video in September 2018.
Interoperabilidade! Caça F-5 da Força Aérea Brasileira realiza reabastecimento em voo em caça A-4 da Marinha do Brasil! ↗ @marmilbr
Maj Gustavo Cury.#1GDA #AviaçãodeCaça #FAB #Dimensão22 #Defender #ForçasArmadas #Brasil pic.twitter.com/AzDNIQvmTR
— Força Aérea Brasileira (@fab_oficial) September 28, 2018
The tweet states: "F-5 fighter of the Brazilian Air Force carries out refuelling in flight on A-4 fighter of the Brazilian Navy!"
VIDEO 2: THIS RAFALE BELONGS TO THE FRENCH AIR FORCE
Another video being circulated on social media shows an in-flight experience of a mid-air refuelling.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
Firstly, on searching the keywords “157” and “ANG” which can be clearly seen on the plane's tail in the video, we found out that they refer to the 157th Air Refueling Wing of the New Hampshire Air National Guard (ANG).
The 157 ARW is a part of the US Air Force 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. It was responsible for the refuelling of the French Air Force Dassault Rafale F2 fighters over Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in January 2016.
The video, shot by Staff Sergeant Robert Kingery, was also shared by United States Air Forces Central Command on their YouTube channel.
The video was also uploaded by ‘AiirSource Military’, a verified YouTube channel that covers the events and missions of US Defence.
VIDEO 3: US NAVY’S F-18 REFUELLING SHARED AS RAFALE
TV9Kannada, a 24-hours Kannada language news channel, published a news report stating that the Rafale jets were refuelled mid-air on their way from France to the stopover at the Al Dhafra airbase in UAE. The video in their report was claimed to be actual visuals from the refuelling at 30,000 feet.
You can also watch the report on their YouTube channel.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
A reverse image search of the key-frames of the video led us to another YouTube channel, AIRBOYD, a verified channel for aviation-related events. It had also been featured on the ABC, AFP, NatGeo, The Guardian and other productions.
The video used by TV9Kannada was originally uploaded by AIRBOYD in January 2012. It was shot by US Air Force's Staff Sergeant Daniel Delgado of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. It shows the U.S. Navy F-18 being refuelled by a KC-10 Extender from the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.
The US Defence also wrote about the incident on their website, with an image similar to the one in the video. The refuelling took place during a mission at a base in Southwest Asia on 24 April 2010.
Were the Rafale Jets Refuelled on Their Way to India?
While the videos being circulated on social media are misleading, the Rafale jets were indeed refuelled mid-air on their journey from France to India.
The images of the refuelling were shared by the official twitter handle of the Indian embassy in France (@Indian_Embassy).
Few shots from 30,000 feet! Mid air refuelling of #RafaleJets on their way to #India@IAF_MCC @French_Gov @FranceinIndia @MEAIndia @IndianDiplomacy @DDNewslive @ANI @DefenceMinIndia @Armee_de_lair @JawedAshraf5 pic.twitter.com/VE7lJUcZe7
— India in France (@Indian_Embassy) July 28, 2020
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