A set of photographs is doing the rounds with the claim that Air Commodore Hilal Ahmed Rather flew one of the five Rafale jets which reached India from France on July 29.
The first batch of five French Rafale fighter jets reached Haryana's Ambala to join the Indian Air Force fleet on July 29 after flying a distance of about 7,000 km. The fighter jets took off from France on July 27 and made a halt in the UAE.
"Family of Hilal Ahmad Rather in Ananthnag area of south Kashmir feel proud as he is one among 5 pilots flying Rafale from France to India," reads the caption of one such post.
The headline of a report by Greater Kashmir reads, "Kashmir's Hilal Ahmad Rather becomes the first pilot to fly Rafale from France to India".
However, nowhere in the report, it is clearly stated that Rather flew the Rafale fighter jet.
The video shows a Rafale jet performing mid-air manoeuvres. The captions say that Air Commodore Rather piloted the fighter jet on its journey to India.
"Five Rafale fighter jets arrive in India. Just see the swag of Rafale and pilot Hilal Ahmed (Translated to English)," reads the caption of one such post.
Air Commodore Hilal Ahmed Rather flew one of the five Rafale jets which reached India from France on July 29.
The claim is false.
Who Is Air Commodore Hilal Ahmed Rather?
Air Commodore Hilal Ahmad Rather is currently India's Air Attaché to France. Originally from South Kashmir's Anantnag district, Hilal became India's first pilot to see off the batch of Rafale jets from France to India on July 27.
Reportedly, he played a significant role in the early delivery of the Rafales. Earlier, he was also associated with the weaponisation of the Rafale jets based on the Indian requirements.
On December 17, 1988, Hilal was commissioned in Indian Air Force as a fighter pilot. In 1993, he became flight lieutenant in 1993 followed by wing commander in 2004, group captain in 2016 and finally air commodore last year.
A person who holds the post of Air attache is a commissioned officer of an air force. They usually represent the Chief of their home air force in the foreign country where they serve.
Tweets On The Event
Office of the Defence Minister had tweeted an India Today report which listed the names of the pilots "who flew Rafale home".
According to the article, seven pilots had brought the initial batch of three single-seated and two twin-seater combat aircraft to India.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) had released only the names of two group captains and two wing commanders in the seven-member team. This list did not mention Hilal Ahmad Rather.
The lists contain the names of Group Captains Harkirat Singh and Rohit Kataria, and Wing Commanders Abhishek Tripath and Manish Singh.
Further, IAF also tweeted a video of the Chief of the Air Staff welcoming the first five IAF Rafales. Hilal Ahmad Rather, however, could not be seen among the seven pilots.
Viral Video Is From 2016
A Google Reverse Image search was done by breaking the video being shared with the claim into individual frames using InVid.
It was found that the same video had been uploaded on YouTube on September 30, 2016.