Fact Check-Balloon marking digitally added to photo of U.S fighter jet

After a United States military fighter jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon over U.S airspace on Feb. 4, social media users widely shared a digitally altered image of a fighter jet with an apparent victory marking of a balloon on its fuselage.

A victory marking is a practice where military planes or ships are adorned with symbols on their exterior to represent their military achievements (here).

On Feb. 4, Reuters reported that an F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon six nautical miles off the coast of South Carolina a week after it entered U.S. airspace (here).

One Facebook post reads, “Soon after a F-22 shot down the Chinese spy balloon, the same plane was found with a new kill marking, I think it should have a red star in the center of the balloon” (here). An example on Twitter can be seen (here).

The original, unaltered image was shared by the verified Twitter account of Edwards Airforce Base in April 2020 and shows an F-22 Raptor fighter jet without the balloon signage on the fuselage (here).


Altered. An image showing a United States fighter jet with a balloon symbol on its fuselage is digitally altered.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts (here).