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Yesterday, videos circulating on social media platforms X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram have sparked rumors of a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jet crash. Despite the widespread speculation and visual evidence, the PAF has not issued any confirmation or statement regarding the incident, nor has any Pakistani media outlet reported on the alleged crash.

The videos, which have quickly gone viral, purportedly show a fighter jet descending rapidly before crashing. According to various sources, the pilot successfully bailed out, as indicated by the Squadron Patch, suggesting a safe ejection. The fighter jet in question has been identified as belonging to PAF’s No. 14 Squadron, also known as the “Tail Choppers.” This squadron is a part of the PAF’s Central Air Command and is known for its expertise in air superiority missions.

As of November 2022, No. 14 Squadron is stationed at PAF Base Rafiqui and operates the PAC JF-17 Thunder multirole aircraft. The JF-17 Thunder, developed jointly by Pakistan and China, is a crucial asset for the PAF, designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground roles. Given the significance of the JF-17 in Pakistan’s air defense strategy, the PAF is particularly sensitive about reporting any incidents involving this aircraft.

If confirmed, this crash would mark the fifth known incident involving a JF-17 aircraft. The most recent confirmed crash occurred in 2021, involving a twin-seater JF-17B, which was a newly built aircraft. The lack of official confirmation and media reports may suggest a deliberate attempt to manage the narrative around the reliability and operational readiness of the JF-17 fleet.

This speculated incident follows another recent crash on May 21st, when a Pakistan Air Force Mirage 5 aircraft went down during a routine training mission near PAF Base Rafiqui. In that instance, the pilot successfully ejected, thanks to the Martin-Baker PRM6 Seat, and the crash was officially acknowledged by the PAF.

The current silence from the PAF and Pakistani media regarding the alleged JF-17 crash raises questions and fuels speculation. Given the strategic importance of the JF-17 program, both domestically and internationally, it is plausible that authorities are exercising caution in releasing information.