The claim: Video shows Russian fighter jet shot down on highway
Another outdated video has been mistaken for first-person footage from Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.
Video circulating online appears to show a dashcam perspective of a plane crashing into a snowy highway. The video appears to be taken as a car drives past the wreckage, first passing a piece of the plane’s wing which caught fire.
In a Facebook post that has been viewed more than 1.2 million times in less than a week, a page claimed it was taken by a Ukrainian refugee fleeing Kyiv.
Fact check report:What is true and what is false about the Russian invasion of Ukraine
“Ukrainian civilian fleeing kyiv captures footage of downed Russian tie hunter,” Jeremy Slayden, a former professional baseball player, wrote in a post on his J Slay USA page on March 2.
The video was also aired as part of Israel’s Channel 13 coverage of the conflictreported Israel Today and PolitiFact.
But the video was created in 2014, long before Russia’s assault on Ukraine began on February 24, and has no connection to the current conflict. This is a Star Wars promotional video, which becomes very clear when you notice the stormtroopers standing alongside the Star Wars craft in the video.
Slayden said the message was a joke in a message to USA TODAY, writing that it was “something meant to lighten the mood on dark days.”
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The video shows a fictional Star Wars vehicle, not a Russian plane
As noted by many commenters on Slayden’s Facebook post, the video shows the iconic Star Wars villains standing next to wreckage on the highway.
The video was created in 2014 by German media company Sky Deutschland as social media promotion for its Star Wars special, Sky spokeswoman Birgit Ehmann told USA TODAY.
The crashed vehicle in the video is not a Russian aircraft but a TIE fighter, which the official Star Wars website describes as “a single-pilot vehicle designed for fast dogfights with Rebel X-wings and other starfighters.” .
“The story in the clip is that a UFO – a TIE Fighter – has crashed on a German highway, and two stormtroopers are waiting next to it for help,” Ehmann wrote in an email to USA TODAY. “The voice you hear is that of a radio host informing drivers about the incident, saying that the left lane on the A3 motorway between the towns of Oberhausen and Arnheim is blocked due to a UFO crash.”
Both the stormtroopers and the TIE fighter are computer generated, according to Ehmann.
“Any indication (that the video relates) to the current situation in Ukraine is completely false and inappropriate,” she wrote.
A YouTube post of the same video from December 13, 2014 as well as another post from 2015 that Politifact unearthed both bear the Sky HD watermark with the Star Wars logo. The text at the bottom of these videos indicates that the video is copyrighted by Lucasfilm, which owns the rights to the Star Wars franchise.
This copyright statement is missing from versions of the video attributed to the Russian invasion, including Slayden’s message.
Fact check:Video of soldiers going to war from 2014, no Russian invasion of Ukraine
Our opinion: False
Based on our research, we rate the claim that a video shows a downed Russian fighter jet on a highway FALSE. The video depicts a Star Wars TIE fighter and stormtroopers. It was first posted online in December 2014, long before the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Our fact-checking sources:
- Birgit Ehmann, March 11, email correspondence with USA TODAY
- Sky Deutschland, accessed March 10, company website homepage
- VR Roller Coaster 360 3D, YouTube, April 1, 2015, Star Wars TIE Fighter crashes on German Autobahn | TIE-Fighter Absturz on the highway
- Star Wars Artistic Team via YouTube, December 13, 2014, Star Wars, TIE Fighter crash on the highway
- CNet, December 15, 2014, Rubberneck at this dash cam video of the TIE Fighter freeway crash
- USA TODAY, October 30, 2012 Disney buys Lucasfilm for $4 million
- Star Wars, accessed March 10, Databank: TIE Fighter
- Star Wars, accessed March 10, Databank: stormtroopers
- Politifact, March 9, images show Star Wars aircraft, not fighting in Ukraine
- Jeremy Slayden, March 10, correspondence on Facebook Messenger
- Israel Today, March 3, Star Wars or Ukraine? Fake War Images Infiltrate Even Mainstream Media
- Maria Dubovikova, March 4, Tweeter
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