On January 13, the Saudi-led coalition announced that it had destroyed an attack helicopter of the Houthis (Ansar Allah) in the central Yemeni province of Ma’rib.
A warplane of the coalition bombed the helicopter that was recently moved from the airport of the Houthi-held Yemeni capital, Sanaa, to southern Ma’rib. The coalition released footage showing the pinpoint airstrike.
• قوات التحالف العربي بقيادة المملكة العربية السعودية 🇸🇦: تدمير طائرة مروحية نقلها الحوثيون من مطار صنعاء 🇾🇪 لجبهة مأرب الجنوبية
• نرصد تحركات لنقل الأسلحة إلى الجبهات وعلى الحوثيين وقف أي محاولة pic.twitter.com/to0G0X1G6o
— الدفاع العربي Defense Arab (@defensearab) January 12, 2022
The attack helicopter was likely a Soviet-made Mi-24/35. The former Yemeni Air Force operated around 24 helicopters of this type. All the helicopters that ended up in the hands of the Houthis following the group’s 2014 rebellion were damaged in the Saudi-led coalition’s 2015 shock and awe strikes on Yemen.
The Houthis were apparently able to bring at least one of the seized Mi-24/35s back to life. Last year there were several reports of a Houthi helicopter attacking Saudi-backed forces in Ma’rib. Back then, this was not confirmed or denied by the Houthis or the Saudi-led coalition. However, now we know that these reports were likely accurate.
The Saudi-led coalition and its proxies are now preparing to launch a large-scale offensive to push the Houthis out from Ma’rib. Last year, the group made significant gains in the province and managed to reach the outskirts of the province’s capital.
Between January 13 and 14, coalition warplanes carried out 36 airstrikes on Houthis forces in Ma’rib. The coalition claim that the airstrikes killed 250 Houthi fighters and destroyed 22 military vehicles of the group.