South Asia and Beyond

US Confirms Houthi Militants Shot Down Its Drone

 US Confirms Houthi Militants Shot Down Its Drone

The US has confirmed that Houthi militants in Yemen shot down its MQ-9 Reaper drone on February 19.

Deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters that, “A U.S. MQ-9 was downed or went down off the coast of Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, in the Red Sea. Initial indications are that it was shot down by a Houthi surface-to-air missile.”

This marks the second MQ-9 drone that has been shot down by the Houthis. The first was in November in international airspace.

The US government said that the drone that was taken down has not been recovered.

“In terms of recovery options, I know CENTCOM is looking into that, but I don’t believe it has been recovered at this time,” CENTCOM added.

Recently, Houthi militants launched massive attacks, hitting two ships travelling in international shipping lanes.

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The United States Central Command had earlier said that it had destroyed a surface-to-air missile launcher in Houthi-controlled Yemen on February 19, along with a drone in western Yemen that was prepared to launch at ships in the Red Sea.

The Reaper drone is used mostly to collect intelligence and costs over $50 million.

The foreign relations committees of the US Senate and the House of Representatives, recently gave formal approval for the sale of 31 Predator MQ-9B drones to India.

These drones have been useful in monitoring pirate activity over the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. These can fly as high as 40,000 feet and remain on station for as long as 35 hours. They come in armed and surveillance versions.

The US has launched multiple strikes alongside the UK over the last several weeks, targeting munitions, launching systems, command and control nodes of the Houthis.

The Iran-aligned Yemeni Houthis have launched attacks on Israel and shipping in the Red Sea in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.