U.S. MQ-9 Reaper Drone Reportedly Downed Again in Yemen

May 30, 2024 by No Comments

A separate US MQ-9 Reaper allegedly crashed in Yemen, images purporting to reveal Wednesday, as Yemen’s Houthi rebels continued targeting ships just around the Red Sea over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The Houthis provided footage they claimed exhibited the aircraft being shot down with a surface-to-air missile in a barren region of Yemen’s central Marib province. It was the third of its type taken this month alone.

Images examined by showed the MQ-9 on its belly in the desert, its tail disconnected from the other portion of its fuselage. One or more hatch on the drone seems to have become ajar after it came down there, but the drone stayed largely intact without any visible explosion damage. One image included Wednesday’s date.

There were no markings on the drone that were particularly noticeable.

Marib authorities, who are still backed by allies of Yemen’s administration in exile, didn’t recognize the drone.

A US defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to debate intelligence matters, told the AP that “the U.S. Air Force has not lost any aircraft running within U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.” The official rejected to elaborate.

The CIA is also believed to operate Reaper drones over Yemen, both to keep an eye on the war and as part of its efforts to fight al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen’s local branch of the rebel group. The CIA declined to respond when contacted by the AP.

Marib, which is 75 miles east of Sanaa, is situated along the edge of the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter Desert at the base of the Sarawat Mountains, which run alongside the Red Sea. US drones have been previously shot down in the province, in part because the region continues to be critical to the results of Yemen’s long-running armed conflict.

Since Yemen’s civil conflict erupted in 2014, when the Houthis captured most of the country’s north and its capital, Sanaa, the US military has lost at least 5 drones to the rebels. This month alone, there have been two more suspected shootdowns of Reapers, which the American military hasn’t verified.

Reapers cost approximately $30 million each. They can reach altitudes of 50,000 feet and have a 24-hour endurance before having to land.

In recent months, the Houthis have intensified attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, demanding that Israel end the war in Gaza, which has killed over 36,000 Palestinians there. On Oct. 7, Hamas-led militants started the conflict, killing nearly 1,200 people and capturing about 250 more.

The Houthis have attacked ships more than 50 times, seized one, and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.

Due to the threat, shipping passing through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has decreased.

Houthi military commander Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree confirmed that the rebels attacked the Laax bulk carrier on Tuesday.

Saree also claimed a series of other attacks on ships that haven’t been reported without giving any evidence to back up his claims. In the past, Saree exaggerated Houthi strikes.