Image of crashed Indian missile mistaken as PAF training aircraft

Misinformation circulating on social media after a missile crashed near Mian Channu

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Claim: Numerous accounts on Twitter and Facebook claimed that an aircraft belonging to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) crashed in Mian Channu in March 2022.

Fact: The claims are false. It has been confirmed by both Pakistani and Indian authorities that an unarmed supersonic missile accidentally launched by India landed in an area of Pakistan. A PAF aircraft did not crash in March 2022.

On 9 March 2022, it was reported that a PAF aircraft had crashed in Mian Channu, an area of Punjab’s Khanewal district, at night. Initially, ARY News reported that the incident happened during a routine flight and no casualties were reported. On the other hand, Dawn News reported that the crash involved a private aircraft that was likely being used in training activities. On Twitter, Indian and Pakistani accounts started posting images and videos of the crash, labelling it a PAF aircraft crash.

However, in a press conference on 10 March 2022, the Directorate General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated, “It was a supersonic flying object, most probably a missile, but it was certainly unarmed,” further adding that “PAF continuously monitored the complete flying path of the object, from its point of origin near Sirsa in India to its point of impact, near Mian Channu.”

Fact or Fiction?

After the incident, rumours started circulating on social media claiming that a PAF aircraft had crashed. A doctored image of a Dawn News article was shared on social media accounts. Text in the image described the crash as involving a newly inducted J10 C fighter jet and falsely quoted the DG ISPR.

Doctrine image of Dawn Newspaper on Twitter

A now-deleted Twitter account @YedSome tweeted images claiming that a PAF fighter plane F-16  crashed in Pakistan. A screenshot of the deleted account can be seen below:

An Indian Twitter user also posted about the incident, claiming it was a PAF JF-17 thunder that had crashed.

Misleading news shared on Twitter by Indian and Pakistani users included false claims about casualties resulting from the incident.

On 10 March 2022, after much speculation on social media, AEROSINT Division PSF (linked with Pakistan Strategic Forum) tweeted that no aircraft associated with the PAF, PNA or PAA had crashed.

Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar held a press conference on 10 March 2022 in which he verified that around 6:43 PM on 9 March 2022, a high-speed object was observed flying within Indian territory by the Air Defence Operation center of the Pakistan Air Force. In the 29-minute long press conference, DG ISPR shared the details of the flying object from its initial course to the crash near Mian Channu. General Iftikhar also highlighted that the flight path of this object endangered many international and domestic passenger flights. The full video conference can be seen here.

On 11 March 2022, the Press Information Bureau of the Government of India issued a press release taking responsibility for the accidental firing of a missile that had landed in Pakistan and ordering a high-level court enquiry.

Virality

After the official statement by the ISPR, a number of social media accounts deleted the false and misleading posts and tweets from social media networking sites.

However, the misleading and false information regarding the missile crash is still available here and here on Facebook.

Conclusion: A PAF plane did not crash during training in Pakistan. An unarmed supersonic missile or flying object accidentally launched by India crashed near Mian Channu in Pakistan.

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