Old U.S. helicopter training video shared as Turkish search operation for Iran President Raisi

By: Tahil Ali
May 21 2024

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Old U.S. helicopter training video shared as Turkish search operation for Iran President Raisi

Screenshot of an X post claiming that the viral clip shows rescue operations for Iran President Raisi. (Source: X /Modified by Logically Facts).


The Verdict False

The viral video doesn’t show a Turkish search operation for Iranian President Raisi but is from a 2012 U.S. helicopter training video shot in Afghani

Claim ID ff5b38e1

What is the claim?

On May 19, a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials crashed in Iran's East Azerbaijan province, leading to their deaths. A video of a helicopter operating at night, with a caption claiming that it shows the deployment of night vision helicopters in a search for Raisi, is circulating on social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube.  

The video shows a helicopter taking off from a launchpad while a soldier inside the helicopter can be seen signaling to someone on the ground while holding onto a rope.

This video has garnered significant attention online. A journalist, Sulaiman Ahmed, shared the video on X (formerly Twitter) with the caption, “BREAKING: TURKEY DEPLOYS NIGHT VISION HELICOPTERS IN SEARCH FOR IRANIAN PRESIDENT RAISI #iran #raisi.” At the time of writing, the video has garnered around 571.6K views and 2.8K likes.  The archives of these posts can be found here and here. 


Screenshots of the social media posts claiming that the viral clip shows rescue operations for Iran President Raisi. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, Logically Facts found that the video in question is from a helicopter training session recorded in Afghanistan and dates back to April 2012.  

What are the facts?

We conducted a reverse image search using keyframes from the video and found several sources to confirm that the video is old and unrelated. We found a longer version of the viral video on the United States Marine Corps’s (USMC) official website. The viral video can be seen from the 4:22 to 4:56 timestamps of the 7:30-minute (archived here) long video posted by USMC on their website on April 13, 2012, with the credits to Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon.

Screengrab of original footage. (Source: hqmc.marines.mil./ Modified by Logically Facts)

 The video is titled “MEDEVAC Night Flight and Hoist Training”, and the description of the video states that it shows the ‘82nd Combat Aviation Brigade MEDVAC’ helicopter team practicing maneuvers during the night. The training drills include helicopter flying, landing, taking off, and flight medics descending and ascending via hoist cable in case of rescuing injured soldiers in night-time scenarios, the description further added. 

A longer version (archived here) of the viral video was also found on the website of the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), which connects global media with the American military serving at home and abroad. The video was posted on April 13, 2012, with the same description as stated by the USMC website. Additionally, DVIDS had mentioned that the video was taken at a forward operating base in Shank, Afghanistan.

A comparison between screenshots of the viral X post with the viral clip and the actual footage uploaded by DVIDS. (Source: X/DVIDS/Modified by Logically Facts) 

Rescue ops 

Rescue operations to search for the crashed chopper carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province began late afternoon on Sunday, May 19. Besides the Iranian 6th Air Force, countries like Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Turkey offered assistance for the search operation. Turkey had committed to sending a night-vision search and rescue team comprising helicopters and 32 mountaineer rescuers. However, on Monday, the Iranian Red Crescent confirmed that the remains of the Raisi and other crash victims had been found, and search operations were concluded.

The verdict 

The claim that the viral video shows Turkey’s deployment of night vision helicopters in search of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after the crash is false. The footage is actually from a training drill shot in April 2012 in Afghanistan and has no connection with the recent search operations related to the crash involving Raisi. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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