This conspiracy is bullshit
by BRYSON MASSE
Is the U.S. military orchestrating a “false-flag” operation in Syria, trying to convince the world that Russia is waging a brutal bombing campaign when, in fact, Moscow is not actually the one indiscriminately killing civilians in the war-torn Middle East country?
No, of course not. Russia is bombing civilians in Syria.
Russia’s RT.com and the usual conspiracists have breathlessly retweeted pictures of U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighters painted in the same livery as Russia’s Su-34 fighter-bomber, a version of the Su-27 Flanker.
To the conspiracists, this is the latest proof of an American false-flag operation. That is to say, evidence that the Pentagon has sent the specially-painted Hornets to bomb Syria, all in an effort to smear Russia.
The U.S is painting their F/A-18's to match the paint schemes of Russian jets in #Syria. Standard training, but interesting nonetheless.
As it turns out, the pictures were taken at Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina. The jets are “adversary” planes that play the role of the bad guys in U.S. military war games.
Footage from one 2014 training event seems to be another source of imagery that skeptics have falsely claimed points to a U.S. propaganda campaign.
Italian aviation reporter David Cenciotti covered that training event. According to Cenciotti, the 2014 video depicts Marine F-18s from squadron VMFAT-101 along with F-16s from the the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, “including some adversaries in Flanker color scheme.”
Training with enemy equipment — or your own equipment painted like the enemy’s — is a practice dating back to World War II. The German air force had its Zirkus Rosarius that flew captured American P-51s and P-47s, among other Allied warplanes.
The United States began using domestically-made F-5 fighters and A-4 attack planes as adversaries as long ago as the 1960s — and still employs F-5s in that role today. The F-5s and A-4s often wore — and the F-5s still do wear — paint schemes based on Soviet colors.
The U.S. Air Force’s 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron did one better. Under the auspices of the Constant Peg program, the 4477th — based at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada — secretly assessed a number of captured Soviet fighters, including MiG-17s, MiG-21s and MiG-23s.
Dolled-up jets are old news, but is there any way that the United States really could deploy planes in such a way as to frame Russia for air strikes?
Unlikely, according to Mick West at the fact-checking website Metabunk. “People have cameras,” West wrote. “The plane that is being emulated is the Russian Su-27 Flanker.”
“Superficially a similar plane [compared to the F-18], it would easily be identified even from relatively small photographs.”
Frankly, if the United States really were interested in framing Russia for bombing raids in Syria, it would be much easier for Washington to simply purchase the Russian planes from friendly countries that already own them.
But that obviously hasn’t occurred.
With U.S.-Russian relations at a low point, these easily-debunked hysterics aren’t helping anyone. Especially when one U.S. presidential candidate habitually cites Twitter as a reliable news source.