On March 8, a US-made Boeing Insitu ScanEagle drone was shot down by the Houthis (Ansar Allah) over the northwestern Yemeni province of Hajjah.
In a brief statement, Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari said that the drone was shot down with a “suitable weapon” while it was conducting “hostile acts” over the district of Harad.
The district of Harad, which is located right on the border with Saudi Arabia’s Jizan province, is today one of Yemen’s hottest fronts. Yemeni forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition have been attempting to advance in the district for more than a month now, to no avail.
Footage released by the Houthis indicate that the downed drone was of the ScanEagle 2 variant, which has a top speed of 148 kilometers and an endurance of more than 16 hours. The ScanEagle 2 was especially designed for tactical reconnaissance missions.
The US military or intelligence may have been using the downed drone to spy on Houthi forces in Hajjah in support of Saudi-backed forces. Another possibility is that the drone was launched by the Saudi military, who allegedly purchased several drones of this type in secret.
This was the fourth ScanEagle 2 drone to be shot down by the Houthis’ air defenses over Yemen since the beginning of the year. The first and second drones were shot down over the district of al-Jubah in the central province of Ma’rib on January 30 and February 25. The third drone was shot down over Harad in Hajjah on February 28.
The Houthis have been developing their air defense capabilities for the last few years. Today the group’s air defenses pose a real threat to the air forces of the Saudi-led coalition and its allies.