Drones have become a critical part of the war on terror and while the Predator gets a lot of the press, one of the most capable is the MQ-9 Reaper. Its ability to stay aloft for twelve hours and to carry nearly 500-pounds of ordnance makes it a great tool for hunting down terrorists or supporting SOF operations in unfriendly territory.
A half-dozen Reapers have been lost since it entered the inventory, five in crashes and one simply decided it had had enough of the remote control crap and opted to fly away. The latter had to be shot down by a US fighter. Today we learn the first US Reaper has been lost to hostile action.
A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down in western Yemen on Sunday, officials at U.S. Central Command confirmed to Military Times.
Multiple outlets reported on Sunday that Houthi rebels had claimed they shot down a drone. Images of the wreckage were posted by the rebel faction’s news agency SABA.
Houthi air defense systems brought down the drone in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, SABA claimed.
“We assess that an MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was shot down in western Yemen on Oct. 1, 2017. This incident is under investigation,” said Maj. Earl Brown, a spokesperson for U.S. Central Command.
Here is the shootdown.
The altitude at which the Reaper operates indicates it was hit by some sort of fixed site surface-to-air missile as it typically operates above the range of the Igla (9K38) man-portable air defense missile. The Houthis are known to have used the SA-2 missile. Were I forced to guess, that’s what I’d bet knocked it down.