Video game clip shared as U.S. military F35 destroyed in aerial combat with Cuba

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
September 21 2023

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Video game clip shared as U.S. military F35 destroyed in aerial combat with Cuba


The Verdict False

This video is a clip from the video game Arma 3 and has been falsely shared as depicting an F35 engaging in aerial combat with the Cuban military.

Claim ID b9d7f104


On September 17, 2023, one of the U.S. military's most advanced fighter aircraft, an F-35, went missing in South Carolina. The pilot successfully ejected from the aircraft and safely parachuted to the ground in a North Charleston neighborhood. Meanwhile, U.S. authorities appealed to the public for assistance in locating the missing jet. 

The New York Times reported that on the evening of September 19, the U.S. military announced the discovery of an F-35 jet wreckage in South Carolina, and searchers located debris in Williamsburg County, north of Charleston, while the reasons for the pilot's ejection remained unclear. Contrary to online claims, there have been no reports of the aircraft engaging in aerial combat with the Cuban military upon entering their airspace.

What's the claim?

Despite the debris of the F-35 jet being found in South Carolina, a user on social media shared a video claiming it depicted the missing F-35 being destroyed during an aerial encounter with the Cuban military as it entered their airspace. The video shows an aircraft flying over a residential area and being targeted by what appears to be rival fire, which ultimately destroys the aircraft.

The X user captioned the clip: "BREAKING: Footage of the missing F-35 being destroyed after engaging in aerial combat with the Cuban military as it flew into their airspace. There has been no statement from either government at this time." This post has garnered about 295,800 views. An archived version of the post can be found here.

Screenshot of the viral post. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the footage is from Arma 3, a military simulator video game developed by Bohemia Interactive.

What we found

Upon conducting a reverse image search, we found that the same 56-second-long video had been uploaded to YouTube on June 23, 2022, with the title "Arma 3 Shooting A Helicopter."

Visual comparison of the viral clip and the YouTube video. (Source: X(Left)/YouTube(Right)/Screenshots)

We found similar videos of fighter aircraft encountering the C-RAM System and CIWS in military simulation scenarios within Arma.

Several indicators reveal that the video does not depict a real scene. These indicators include video clarity and sound effects, which can serve as clear giveaways of the content's true nature. The video quality of modern video games like Arma 3, as seen in the viral video, features highly detailed graphics and textures, a clear indicator that the footage originates from a video game. Similarly, the sound effects in the viral clip seem louder and exaggerated, more theatrical than their real-world counterparts.

Video games used for misinformation 

Footage from Arma 3 has been repeatedly misused for misinformation, falsely portraying its in-game footage as real-world events. Logically Facts and other fact-checking organizations have previously debunked similar claims.

In November 2022, Bohemia Interactive officially addressed this issue. Their PR manager, Pavel Křižka, released a statement regarding the misuse of 'Arma 3' game footage and the company provided a guide for differentiating genuine footage from video game visuals.

The verdict

The viral video, available on YouTube since June 2022, predates the September 2023 disappearance of the F-35. It originates from the popular video game Arma 3. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before