Houthis Take Down Another US Drone in Yemen

BERLIN - JUN 2, 2016: US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone on display at the Exhibition ILA Berlin Air Show.

A video purportedly depicting Houthi militants in Yemen rejoicing over the downing of an American MQ-9 Reaper has sparked worries about the drone’s susceptibility to assaults. 

During the civil conflict in Yemen, the Houthis, who are affiliated with Iran, have captured a lot of land, including Sanaa, the capital. The Houthi troops and the exiled Yemeni government both consider the Marib province, where the drone was shot down, to be strategically important.

The long-duration and high-altitude characteristics of the drone—worth $30 million each—make it an indispensable tool in targeted missions. In a desolate area of central Marib province, Yemen, the Houthis broadcast footage showing the plane being attacked by a surface-to-air missile. The images show that the MQ-9 was lying on its belly in the desolate desert, with its tail assembly detached from the remainder of its body. It seemed like someone opened at least one hatch on the drone after it landed, but other than that, it was mostly undamaged and didn’t show any obvious explosion damage.

In reaction to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Houthis have ramped up their attacks on ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Drone assaults have been carried out by the organization, which is demanding that Israel terminate the conflict in Gaza. 

Nearly 1,200 people were killed and 250 were taken captive in an attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7, 2023. Over three6,000 Palestinians have lost their lives in Gaza as a result of Israel’s onslaught since then, and the fighting has forced over 2.3 million people to flee their homes.

According to estimates, the Houthi rebels have taken control of at least five U.S. military drones since the Yemeni civil war broke out in 2014. Amid rising tensions in the Middle East, the downing of the drone might exacerbate the situation, especially in light of the recent attacks on Red Sea ships by the Houthis. 

The United States may have to rethink its drone policies and think about adding more safeguards if this turns out to be true.