On February 25, the Houthis (Ansar Allah) announced that their air defenses had shot down two US-made drones over Yemen.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari, a spokesman for the group, said that the first drone, a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, was shot down with an “ground-to-air missile” over the northern province of al-Jawf, while the second, a Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, was shot down with a “suitable weapon” over the central province of Ma’rib.
The United Arab Emirates, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi, and the US, the main backer of the coalition, are both known to be operating MQ-1 drones over Yemen.
The much smaller ScanEagle drones are reportedly being operated over Yemen by the Saudi military, and possibly the US.
If confirmed, these will be the fourth and fifth drones to be shot down by the Houthis’ air defenses over Yemen since the start of the year. The most recent drone to be downed by the group was a Chinese-made CASC Rainbow CH-4.
The Houthis have been developing their air defense capabilities for the last few years. Today, the group’s arsenal included MANPADs [man-portable air-defense systems], upgraded medium-range air-defense systems and air-to-air missiles which were modified to be launched from the ground.
The Saudi-led coalition have been making immense efforts to neutralize the Houthis’ air defense capabilities, to no avail.