Yemen will “in due course” reveal the fate of the two Saudi pilots whose Tornado fighter jet was downed by the Houthis over the Sa’ada province in earlier February.
Houthi politburo member Mohammed al-Bukhaiti revealed in an interview with London-based al-Mayadeen TV that the Saudi air force had tried to eliminate the two pilots after their aircraft was shot down on February 14th.
“The Saudis intended to kill the pilots with their airstrikes on the wreckage of the downed fighter jet,” he said.
“Saudi fighters targeted every movement in the area where the aircraft had been shot down, which resulted in the martyrdom of dozens of Yemeni civilians,” Bukhaiti added.
The Saudi Arabian state news agency, SPA, reported that the Kingdom had carried out a special operation to evacuate the pilots who allegedly survived the incident, but there’s been no other information since.
As of latest information, from February 16th, the two pilots were missing.
The missile that downed the fighter jet is a part of a new defense system made locally and that was its first test, Al-Masirah TV reported.
The Houthis said coalition warplanes launched several strikes on the area where the plane went down, and the United Nations reported 31 civilians were killed.
On February 23rd, Yemen’s armed forces unveiled four domestically-built long-range, surface-to-air missile defense systems in what is seen as a game changer in the war.
Head of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council and commander-in-chief of the Houthi armed forces Mahdi al-Mashat identified the systems as Fater-1 (Innovator-1), Thaqib-1 (Piercer-1), Thaqib-2 and Thaqib-3. The systems have entered service following successful tests, he said.
“The new defense systems will change the course of the battle against the coalition of aggression, and pave the ground for the introduction of more sophisticated systems in order to engage enemy targets,” Mashat said.
Bukhaiti also mentioned the new system, saying that every time new military equipment was tested, it was advertised to promote the Yemeni progress.
“Each time we have tested a new system, we have announced it in order to highlight Yemen’s defensive capabilities in deterring the enemy.”
Back in January 2018, Yemen’s missile defense units shot down a Tornado and a US-made F-15 belonging to the so-called Saudi-led coalition. The Yemeni forces have also shot down numerous combat and surveillance drones as well as a number of helicopters so far.
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