Photos of a crashed aircraft in flames are being shared widely on social media with the claim that a Rafale jet crashed during training and that two pilots have died in the incident.
However, no such crash has occurred and we found that the photos being used to make this claim are from a crash of a Mirage 2000 in Bengaluru in February 2019.
The claim is arising in the aftermath of the formal induction of the Rafale into the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Air Force Station in Ambala on Thursday, 10 September.
Three photos of the crashed aircraft were shared by a Twitter account by the name of Shweta Singh, along with a photo of an intact Rafale aircraft.
“Breaking news: one Rafale jet crash during training. 2 pilots dead (sic),” the message being shared with the photos said. The tweet also used several hashtags connected to the Indian Army, Air Force and the induction of the Rafale aircraft.
We also found several other people sharing the same on Twitter.
The claim was also viral with the same photos and message on Facebook.
WHAT WE FOUND
Firstly, we checked for news reports and found no such news of a crash of a Rafale aircraft.
Then, we ran a reverse image search on all the photos and found that all three of the photos showing the crashed aircraft are from a crash that took place in Bengaluru in February 2019.
We found all three photos in various new reports about the crash that occurred on 1 February 2019.
Two pilots died after the Mirage 2000 trainer fighter aircraft of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) crashed at the HAL Airport in Bengaluru. The test pilots were identified as Squadron leader Siddharth Negi and Squadron leader Samir Abrol.
Therefore, the photos being shared as a crashed Rafale aircraft are firstly from an old crash and are also not even of a Rafale, but a Mirage 2000.
However, the photo showing the intact aircraft on a runway is actually of a Rafale aircraft. The photo is from 29 July, when the first batch of five Rafale aircraft from France arrived in India, landing at the Air Force Station at Ambala. The Twitter handle of the Indian Air Force had shared the photos after the landing.
Further, we found that the Twitter account that had first shared the photos and the fake claim is a fan account of Shweta Singh, news anchor and Executive Editor of Special Programming at Aaj Tak.
The bio of the account clearly mentions that and we could see that the account itself was only created in September 2020.
Therefore, it is clear that old photos of an IAF Mirage 2000 fighter jet crash in Bengaluru are being shared falsely as a new Rafale crash during a training session.
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