U.S. Drone Loss Mounts in Yemen

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-04-27 10:59 AM UTC


Three U.S. MQ-9 drones have been shot down in Yemen over the past six months.

Yesterday, U.S. officials said an MQ-9 drone crashed in Yemen, and it was the third since the start of the Ansar Allah (Houthi) attacks on the Red Sea in November. The officials said the investigation into the incident is underway.

Houthi armed forces claimed responsibility for downing the American drone, saying, “It was shot down in the airspace of Sa’ada province while it was carrying out hostile missions. It was targeted with a suitable missile.” Sa’ada is the stronghold of the Houthi group.

The previous two American drones were shot down in Yemen’s western coastal region in November 2023 and February 2024. At the time, the Houthis also took responsibility for the incident. The cost of the three drones is roughly US$90 million.

When the Houthis downed the American MQ-9 drone in November, a military source told Sheba Intelligence that the Houthis used the Iranian Khordad-3 Air Defense System in their attack.

According to the source, such a defense weapon was smuggled to a Red Sea coast six months before the attack. A military expert at the time said, “The Khordad-3 System is an advanced version of the Iranian Raad aerial defense system. This system shot down the American RQ-4 Global Hawk in 2019 over the Strait of Hormuz.”


Late last month, the Houthis attempted to down an American drone with an air defense missile. Sheba Intelligence obtained a picture of the remains of the missile that fell southeast of Marib Airport after it chased the American drone and exploded in the air.


A military told Sheba Intelligence at the time, “It appears that the missile reached the end of its range without hitting the drone, causing it to explode, and there was no other explosion and no debris from the drone in the area.”


Despite dozens of U.S.-U.K. airstrikes on Houthi sites since January, the Yemeni group remains undeterred. It says its operations against the Israeli, British and American military assets are part of its support to the Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel has killed over 34000 people.