Houthi shot down US $30 million UAV

Houthi forces announced they shot down the US MQ-9 UAV operating off the coast of Yemen, accusing it of doing reconnaissance and supporting Israel.

“Air defense forces shot down the US MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) while it was conducting hostile surveillance and reconnaissance activities above Yemen’s territorial waters. The presence of the UAV is part of the effort. US military support for Israel,” Yahya Saree, Houthi spokesman, announced today.

The Houthi group also released a video of the incident, showing the US UAV being tracked on infrared and thermal imaging sensors before being hit by a missile and falling.

“The Yemeni armed forces have the right to defend the country and fight all threats. Hostile moves will not stop us from maintaining the campaign against the Israeli regime that is oppressing the Palestinian people,” the spokesman said.

Two unnamed US officials later confirmed the information, saying that the MQ-9 was shot down in international airspace off the coast of Yemen and that Central Command (CENTCOM), the unit in charge of US military operations, was shot down in international airspace off the coast of Yemen. The Middle East is evaluating the situation.

MQ-9 Reaper is an armed UAV developed by the American corporation General Atomics. The designation “MQ” shows that it is a multi-mission drone, while “9” is the order of the aircraft in the US UAV line. This is America’s first search-and-destroy UAV line designed for long-range reconnaissance at high altitudes.

The MQ-9’s sensor system includes the AN/DAS-1 multi-spectral target indicator cluster with color television channel, infrared and laser irradiator, combined with the AN/APY-8 Lynx II radar with scanning feature—synthetic aperture to create three-dimensional images of the terrain and search for targets.

A report by the US Congressional Research Service said each Reaper aircraft has a factory price of about 30 million USD. Houthi forces shot down this type of UAV twice in the sky over Yemen in 2019.

The Iran-backed Houthi group is controlling many territories in Yemen, including the capital Sanaa. The Houthis confront the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which has intervened in Yemen since March 2015 to restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Location of Yemen and Israel.  Graphics: Google Maps

Location of Yemen and Israel. Graphics: Google Maps

The Houthis claim to be part of an “axis of resistance” targeting Israel, including armed groups in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq backed by Iran. Iran is considered to support Hamas financially and militarily but has repeatedly stated that it was not involved in the attack on Israel on October 7.

Houthi forces in recent weeks have repeatedly launched UAV and missile attacks on Israel but were all intercepted by warships from Washington and Tel Aviv.