In Brief

Plane wrong: Donald Trump campaign ad features Russian fighter jets

Fundraising promo ‘to support the troops’ shows silhouettes of MiG-29 aircraft and AK-47 assault rifles

A fundraising advert for the presidential campaign of Donald Trump has crashed and burned after experts pointed out that the promo features images of Russian-made fighter jets and weapons.

The Trump Make America Great Again Committee - a campaign arm run by the Republican National Committee (RNC) - ran a digital ad dubbed “Support Our Troops” between 8 and 12 September that showed the “silhouettes of three soldiers walking as a fighter jet flies over them”, Politico reports. 

But Pierre Sprey, who helped design the F-16 and A-10 planes for the US Air Force, told the news site that the planes in question are Russian-built MiG-29s.

“That’s definitely a MiG-29,” said Sprey. “I’m glad to see it’s supporting our troops.”

According to Politico, he “noted the angle of the aircraft’s tail, the way the tail is swept far back, and the spacing of the engines, along with the tunnel between them” as key identifying factors.

As the Daily Mail reports, “the MiG-29 is the Russians’ mainstay fighter jet and it was developed during the Cold War specifically to counter American F-15 and F-16s”.

Sprey’s plane claims were confirmed by Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow.

And Pukhov heaped further humiliation on the Trump campaign by noting that one of the soldiers in the ad is carrying a AK-74 - an assault rifle originally manufactured in the Soviet Union and rarely used by US armed forces.

The image in the ad is a stock photo from Shutterstock.com, and was uploaded by an Andorra-based user. The photo’s creator, Arthur Zakirov, told Politico that the composite image was “a completely recreated scene from various photographs of mine” and shows a 3D model of a MiG-29, while the soldiers were Russian models.

The photo was created five years ago and was taken in three different countries, showing Russian sky, Greek mountains and French ground, said Zakirov, an oil company analyst and amateur photographer based in the Russian city of Perm.

“Today, you hear about the Kremlin’s hand in US politics. Tomorrow, you are this hand,” he joked, adding that he thought the Trump fundraising ad mix-up was “pretty funny”.

Both the Trump campaign and the RNC declined to comment to Politico.

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