Footage does not show escalating tension between US and China near Baltimore bridge

27 March 2024
What was claimed

A video shows a Chinese plane being shot at by US land forces near the collapsed Baltimore bridge.

Our verdict

This is not genuine footage. It is a clip from a military simulation video game. There are no reports connecting China to the collapse of the bridge, and reportedly no evidence of terrorism.

Footage from a video game has been circulating online with the suggestion it shows conflict between China and the US near a Baltimore bridge following the recent Francis Scott Key bridge collapse

The footage shows a series of shots being exchanged between a plane flying through a dark sky and a source on the ground. The plane is shot down at the end of the clip.

It has been shared on Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) with the caption: “Breaking: Tensions escalate as a Chinese plane engages US land forces near the Baltimore bridge, which has been destroyed in the skirmish. Developing story. #BreakingNews #baltimorebridge”. 

The Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, US, collapsed in the early hours of 26 March after it was hit by a 290-metre-long, Singapore-flagged container ship. At least six people are believed to have died. 

However, this footage circulating on social media is not real. It’s a clip from the military simulation video game Arma 3. While Full Fact could not find the original clip, a white machine is visible 23 seconds into the minute-long clip that appears to be the anti-air defence system that can be seen in many other almost identical clips showing Arma 3 gameplay. 

The clip appears to have first been shared on X with the suggestion it shows tension between the US and China by a Moscow-based account described as a “gamer”. The account responded to a ‘community note’ identifying the clip as Arma 3 footage saying: “Who called the fun police?”

The US Attorney for the District of Maryland said there is “no evidence” to suggest the collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge has any ties to terrorism. Full Fact could not find any credible reports connecting China to the bridge collapse or describing any such military escalation.

This is not the first time we’ve seen Arma 3 gameplay being shared with claims it shows genuine combat footage, including clips supposedly from Ukraine, Israel and the Red Sea. We’ve also written about another false claim that footage showed an explosion on the Francis Scott Key bridge before its collapse.

Image courtesy of Matthew Binebrink

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