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US choppers over Arizona lake passed off as IAF Apaches over Pangong Tso

After the Galwan Valley clash, there were reports that the Indian Air Force has deployed Apache helicopters and Mig-29 fighter jets at Leh airbase.

In the meantime, a video of military choppers flying low over blue waters surrounded by mountains is circulating on social media with the claim that these are IAF’s Apache helicopters patrolling over Pangong Tso in Ladakh.

Several Twitter and Facebook users have posted the video with the caption, "Indian Air Force's Apache, the best attack helicopter's in the world, now patrols the Pangong Tso in Ladakh."


India Today Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA) has found the claim to be misleading. The choppers seen in the viral video are not of IAF and they are not patrolling over Pangong Tso. These are United States marine choppers flying over Lake Havasu in Arizona.

The archived versions of the posts can be seen here, here and here. Multiple Facebook users have posted the clip with a similar claim. These posts can be seen here.


AFWA investigation

With the help of InVID, reverse image search and keyword search, we found that several American pilots and military veterans have posted the same video on Instagram recently, claiming this to be from Lake Havasu in Arizona, where fighter pilots often perform low-flying maneuvers.

We found several videos of Lake Havasu on YouTube where similar air maneuvers were being performed by military choppers. A very similar video of a low-flying Apache helicopter over Lake Havasu from 2018 is also found on YouTube.

We found there is a stark difference of colours between a US marine chopper and an IAF helicopter. An IAF chopper always has the Tricolour on its tail. The chopper in the viral video bears no Tricolour.

Lake Havasu is a canyon, its blue-green water surrounded by stiff hills in most places. Comparing a Google Earth image of the lake with the viral video we found similar structures and geographical identities.

On condition of anonymity, an IAF source also confirmed to us that the viral video is not of IAF's Apache helicopters over Pangong Tso.

We could not ascertain the exact date the viral video was shot, but it is certain that the video is not of IAF choppers patrolling over Pangong Tso, but US marine helicopters over Lake Havasu, Arizona.

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