A Twitter user posted the viral images with a similar claim. (archived link)
Indian Rafale jet crash during training.
2 pilots dead!!!
What will happen to our invitation for chai??? pic.twitter.com/oSqC2a1w1r
— Dr Fatima K – PTI (FOLLOW 4 ANY MEDICAL ADVICE ) (@p4pakipower) September 11, 2020
The Indian government has signed a deal to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation. “Five Rafale jets, including two twin-seaters, had landed on 29 July at the Ambala Air Force Station, home of the first squadron of the French fighters,” reported The Print. The second batch of Rafale jets, likely to be four in number, is set to arrive in October.
(Urdu text انڈیا کا جدید ترین فائٹر طیارہ “Rafale” گر کر تباہ ہوگیا، ساتھ پائلٹ بھی جہنم واصل ۔۔۔دنیا کی نالائق ترین ائیر فورس کے طیارے خود ہی گرتے ہیں گرانے کی ضرورت نہیں ہوتی #rafale_india_Crashed)
Some users have also posted a screenshot allegedly by the verified Twitter account of the Indian Air Force. The tweet reads, “Very shocked news! During exercise, Rafale has crashed near Ambala Airforce Station due to technical fault and a pilot martyred.” As per the screenshot it was posted on September 4. A Twitter user who claims to be Pakistani posted the screenshot. (archived link)
Alt News performed a reverse image search and found that this was published by
Images 2, 3 and 4
Alt News performed a reverse image search on each of the images and found that they represent the same incident: Mirage 2000 crash at HAL airport runway in Bengaluru on February 1, 2019.
The leftmost image was published by The Indian Express with the caption, “According to IAF sources, the two pilots, Squadron leader Siddharth Negi and Squadron leader Sameer Abrol, sustained fatal injuries after the aircraft crashed during takeoff this morning. (Reuters)”
We then looked for the image on Reuters pictures and found that it dates back to February 2019. “Indian Air Force’s Mirage 2000 trainer aircraft crashed in the southern city of Bengaluru,” reads its description.
The next image was published by The Print. The image caption read, “Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft after it crashed in Bengaluru | PTI”
The final image was published by Deccan Herald which also said that it represents the same incident. “The wreckage of the Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft after it crash-landed, at HAL airport runway, soon after take-off for a training sortie in Bengaluru on Friday.”
Indian Air Force tweet screenshot
Alt News rummaged through the official Twitter account of the Indian Air Force and couldn’t find the viral tweet. Readers should note there is a grammatical error as well: “Very shocked news!”
PIB Fact Check also debunked the viral screenshot on September 11.
Claim:An alleged tweet by @IAF_MCC claims that a combat aircraft Rafale jet has crashed near Ambala Airbase due to technical fault and a pilot is martyred#PIBFactCheck: The image is #Morphed. No such tweet has been posted by IAF. Also, no such incident has taken place#FakeNewspic.twitter.com/QDMbzNHQ7U
— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) September 11, 2020
Thus, a representative image, photographs of the 2019 Mirage jet crash in Bengaluru and a fake screenshot of an Indian Air Force tweet were used to spread misinformation that a Rafale jet crashed and two pilots died during training.