FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show A Balloon Symbol On A Fighter Jet That Shot Down A Chinese Spy Balloon?

Anna Mock | Fact Check Reporter

A photo shared on Facebook allegedly shows the fighter jet that recently shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast with a balloon emblem. 

Verdict: False

The image was digitally altered. The original image was posted in April 2020 by an air force base in California with no such graphic.

Fact Check:

A F-22 Raptor fighter shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon approximately six miles off the East Coast last week, according to the Department of Defense. U.S. officials announced that Chinese balloons had flown over the U.S. at least three times during the Trump administration and at least one previous time in the Biden administration, according to NPR.

The Facebook post allegedly shows a photo of the F-22 that shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon decorated with a balloon emblem. The photo features the pilot giving a thumbs-up. “Soon after a F-22 shot down the Chinese spy balloon, (look at my last post) the same plane was found with a new kill marking,” the caption reads. “I think it should have a red star in the center of the balloon.”

The photo is digitally altered, however. The unedited image stems from the Twitter account of the Edwards Air Force Base in California. It does not show the balloon emblem. 

The F-22 jet that shot down the balloon belongs to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, according to the Virginian-Pilot. No one in the operation was injured nor did the balloon pose a physical threat, the outlet reported.

Check Your Fact has reached out to the air force base for comment, and will update this piece accordingly if one is received. (RELATED: Did Elaine Chao Call Trump A ‘Chinese B****’?)

This is not the first piece of misinformation about the balloon spread online. Check Your Fact recently debunked a claim the balloon was owned by the “Deep State” and not China.


Anna Mock

Fact Check Reporter