A U.S. MQ-9 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) was shot down by the Yemeni Air Defense Force, an ally of the Houthis, while it was conducting a sortie over the western province of al-Hudaydah, where a UN-sponsored ceasefire is implemented.
The Houthis media wing released a video and several photos showing the remains of the U.S. UCAV, which was likely being operated by the U.S. Air Force or even the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
A military source told the Yemeni al-Masirah TV that the UCAV was “engaged in hostilities” over the western coast of Yemen.
The MQ-9 “Reaper,” which was first presented by General Atomics in 2007, has a rage of more than 1,800km and an endurance of up to 14 hours. The UCAV can carry more than 1,000kg of precision-guided weapons.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari, a spokesman of the pro-Houthis wing of the Yemeni Armed Forces, said that the U.S. UCAV was targeted with a “suitable ground-to-air missile.”
“There is constant development of air defenses to protect all Yemeni airspace and achieve full sovereignty,” the spokesman added.
The Houthis possess several types of man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). However, large drones like the Reaper are usually shot down with modified air-to-air missiles, such as Soviet-made, infrared-guided R-27T and R-73E.
Last March, the Yemeni Air Defense Force shoot down an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over Sanaa with a modified missile. Few weeks later, a MQ-1C Gray Eagle UCAV was shoot down, also over the capital.
The Yemeni Air Defense Force growing capabilities have become a real threat to the U.S. aerial operations over Yemen, which are meant to support the Saudi-led coalition.
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