VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video carries FALSE claim about F-35 flying near Chinese vessel in WPS


A YouTube video claimed that a United States (U.S.) F-35B fighter jet flew by a Chinese vessel that fired a water cannon at two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). No such incident happened. 

The title of an Aug. 7 video by YouTube channel PH TV that was re-posted on Facebook (FB) read: 

Lagot kayo ngayon! Barko ng China na nambomba ng water cannon ginulat ng isang USF-35 sa WPS (You’re in trouble now. USF-35 surprised Chinese ship that fired a water cannon in the WPS)”. 

The erroneous video appeared two days after Chinese Coast Guard and militia vessels, on Aug. 5,  performed dangerous maneuvers and fired water cannons to hinder the PCG’s mission to carry food and supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. Videos and reports from the PCG and the Armed Forces do not show or mention any U.S. plane during the incident.

 Reverse image search shows that the photo shown in PH TV’s video is actually fake. The original photo, taken by Vietnamese Coast Guard on May 13, 2014, showed Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) 3210 in the Paracel Islands, not in the West Philippine Sea. The Paracels or Xisha islands are hotly contested by Vietnam, China and Taiwan.

The video’s voice-over claimed that the US deployed the aircraft after its amphibious assault ship sighted the CCG in the WPS. Further, it claimed that the CCG changed its course after sighting the US aircraft. The video put together various unrelated file photos and videos of military drills to support these claims.

Cursory search of the keywords “USS America,” “F35-B,” and “South China Sea” as mentioned by the video’s narrator yielded this report on USS America’s F-35 squadron’s flight operations in the South China Sea in April 2020. But it made no mention of any sighting or shadowing of the CCG at the time.

PH TV’s (created on Nov. 2, 2015) YouTube video got 32,900 interactions. Meanwhile, the version uploaded by FB page PH TV (created on Nov. 1, 2021) the video, further garnered 199,416 interactions.


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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)