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Houthis Take Down Another US Reaper Drone, Reiterate Threat to Target Ships in Mediterranean

© Photo : X / Defence_IDASocial media footage shows what appears to be another US Reaper drone downed by the Houthis over Yemen.
Social media footage shows what appears to be another US Reaper drone downed by the Houthis over Yemen. - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.05.2024
The Yemeni militia has turned the destruction of General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drones into an art form, using homegrown variants of the Soviet Kub surface-to-air missile system to shoot the $32 million apiece attack UAVs out of the skies. The Pentagon has used Reapers extensively over Yemen amid the Houthi’ partial blockade of the Red Sea.
Yemen’s Houthi militia have reported the destruction of another MQ-9 Reaper using a “a locally-made” SAM.
In a statement published Friday and reported by Yemen’s SABA News Agency, the militia said their air defense forces took down the American drone over Marib, western Yemen, where it “was carrying out hostile acts,” on Thursday night.
The US military has yet to acknowledge the loss of the advanced drone. However, footage circulating online showed wreckage of a drone matching the Reaper’s dimensions and appearance, lying seemingly almost completely intact in a desert area at night. The Houthis don’t have a reputation for reporting on the destruction of enemy equipment unless they’ve actually done so, and previous attacks targeting Reapers have subsequently been begrudgingly confirmed by the Pentagon.
The downed drone is at least the fifth destroyed over Yemen since October 2023.
American forces have deployed Reapers en masse in the region to assist in their campaign of strikes on Yemen aimed at weakening the missile and drone capabilities the Houthis have deployed to try to enforce a partial blockade of the Red Sea targeting Israeli, US and UK-linked commercial vessels and warships.
The guided missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) patrols the waters of the Persian Gulf. File photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.05.2024
US Destroyer Quits Red Sea, Sails Home as Houthis Warn of Escalation Enemy ‘Can’t Imagine’
Introduced into service with the US Air Force in 2008, Reapers have a 27-hour endurance time and a 50,000-foot flight ceiling, and have been heavily used in US operations over Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria for over 15 years, with over 300 built. The 11-meter long armed UAVs have a 20-meter wingspan, can carry up to 1,700 kg of ordinance on seven external hardpoints, and can travel at speeds of nearly 500 km per hour, with a cruising speed of over 300 km per hour.
The Houthis has vowed to continue their partial blockade until Israel stops its assault on Gaza, and have rejected all attempts to date by the US and its allies to get them to halt their missile and drone attacks – either by force or through quiet attempts to bribe them.
The Reaper shootdown came hours after the militia reiterated its threats to target Israeli-bound ships in the Mediterranean.
“We will target any ship heading to Israel that comes within range of our weapons,” Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said in a speech Thursday. “There is no red line for us. We are gradually hitting sensitive strategic targets that affect the enemy and we will reach them by God’s grace,” he said.
In this photo released by the U.S. Navy, the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, front, and the landing ship USS Carter Hall, back travel through the Red Sea - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.05.2024
US Military Shoots Down 3 Houthi Drones Over Red Sea
Al-Houthi reiterated that the militia sees the US as “complicit with the Zionist regime in the genocide against the Palestinian people,” and accused Washington of tacitly approving Tel Aviv’s attack on Rafah.
“We will strive to strengthen the fourth phase of escalation in terms of momentum and the power of strikes,” al-Houthi said, referencing the militia’s waves of escalatory actions, including attempts to strike Israel directly, and expanding the scope of operations from the Red and Arabian Seas to the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Al-Houthi said Houthi missiles and drones have targeted US ships operating the region more than a hundred times since the start of the year, and that Israeli ships and port infrastructure had been targeted 40 times using 211 missiles.
The “fourth phase” of the campaign promises to target “all ships that breach the Israeli navigation ban and head to the ports of occupied Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea in any area within the reach of Houthi forces,” al-Houthi said.
The Houthi campaign has shed far less blood than the crisis in Gaza which sparked it, where nearly 35,000 Palestinians have been killed, and over 79,000 wounded, in Israeli attacks, the majority of them civilians. Houthi missile and drone strikes have killed three merchant ship sailors and injured five others, damaging at least 20 commercial vessels and sinking one. American and British strikes on Yemen have killed at least 50 Yemenis and injured 35 others to date.
What the campaign 'lacks' in carnage it makes up for in economic and psychological impact, with the Houthis humbling the US military – which has proven unable to stop the militia – hailing from one of the poorest, and most conflict-torn countries in the world. The campaign has also caused tens of billions of dollars in losses to economies around the world, including Israel, with major merchant fleets forced to avoid the Red Sea region to escape being targeted.
Armed Yemeni men step over a US and an Israeli flag painted on the asphalt in the Houthi-run capital Sanaa, during a march in support of the Palestinians amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, on February 29, 2024.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.05.2024
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