On July 4th, a photograph of jets flying in formation appeared on the social media accounts of the San Diego Air and Space museum in honor of Independence Day. But here’s the thing: the aircraft featured in the photo don’t belong to the United States military. In fact, it’s a picture of the Russian SU-25 Frogfoot demonstration team. And while the red, white, and blue smoke coming off the jets screams ‘Merica, that also happens to be the color scheme for the Russian Federation. Here’s a quick breakdown of this hilariously ill-timed Russia gaffe:
- The photo appeared on the museum’s social media channels at TIME on July 4th — and despite hundreds of comments on Facebook and Twitter, it remained up until noon on Thursday, July 5th.
- Russian naval history publishing house ‘Gangut’ noted in a comment on the Facebook post that the photo in question was originally taken at the ‘Day of the Russian Navy’ parade in St. Petersburg last year, which occurs on the last Sunday in July.
- Even worse, Su-25 Grach (NATO designation: Frogfoot) aircraft featured in the photo have seen extensive action in Syria and Ukraine, both major flashpoints for the U.S and Russia. Geared for close air support it is considered to be the Russian version of the beloved A-10 Warthog.
It’s really easy to make a mistake when it comes to social media, especially when you’re not intimately familiar with the complexities of military aircraft. But when in doubt, flag down one of the many aircraft nerds who undoubtedly are running around the halls of the San Diego Air and Space Museum (seriously?) and maybe ask them to double-check the nationality of the aircraft you are about to post.
We aren’t Putin you on the hot seat, but maybe next time Stalin before you post could be the best way to go.