The Trump Make America Great Again Committee, co-operated by the Republican national committee and Trump’s presidential campaign, posted a digital ad on September 8 telling Americans to “support our troops". Ironically, the photo the campaign selected is not actually of American troops, but rather features Russian models dressed as soldiers – holding a Soviet-developed automatic weapon – and a Russian-built fighter jet in the background.

In the ad, three silhouetted soldiers climb a hill as fighter jets pass over them. The photo came from Shutterstock.com, under the title “Military silhouettes of soldiers and airforce against the backdrop of sunset sky,” according to Politico, which first reported on this story.

In new ad by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee telling Americans to "support our troops," the feature image actually shows Russian models posing as soliders and a Russian MiG-29 fighter jet. Screengrab of ad.

Arthur Zakirov, who designed the original image on Shutterstock, told Politico that his image uses Russian models and a 3D recreation of an MiG-29 fighter jet – a Russian jet. Zakirov, 34, composed the image five years back using photos that he had taken in Russia, Greece and France.

“This is a completely recreated scene from various photographs of mine,” Zakirov told Politico. Zakirov lives in Perm, Russia and is an amateur photographer.

Pierre Sprey, who helped develop the F-16 and A-10 planes for the US Air Force, also confirmed the plane’s model to Politico. Sprey pointed to details including the angle of the jet’s tail and the distance between the engines.

“That’s definitely a MiG-29,” said Sprey. “I’m glad to see it’s supporting our troops.”

On September 15, Wassim Nasr, an analyst and journalist at FRANCE 24, posted a Tweet highlighting the foreign elements of the Trump advertisement. In the photos, he circled the Russian fighter jets in the background and weapon of the soldier on the right. This soldier is holding an AK-74, which is a Soviet-designed model.
In a Tweet posted September 14, France 24 journalist and analyst Wassim Nasr called attention to the image used by the Trump Make American Great Again Committee. The caption reads: “What’s wrong here? I’ve done half the work for you already.”

Ironically, the MiG-29 twin-engine fighter jet was built by the Soviet Union to counter the strength of the American F-15 and F-16 jets. The MiG-29 first took to the skies in 1977, and continues to be Russia’s key fighter jet today. This military plane has also been exported to several countries including North Korea, Syria, India, Uzbekistan, and Iran.

The political advertisement ran from September 8 to September 13 before going offline. Donations from the digital advertisement are mainly funneled towards the presidential campaign, according to Politico.

Article written by Sophie Stuber