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    HomeMilitaryRising Houthi Aggression Leads to Increased US Reaper Drone Losses in Yemen"

    Rising Houthi Aggression Leads to Increased US Reaper Drone Losses in Yemen”

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    The United States military has reported the loss of six MQ-9 Reaper drones since October 2023, with the latest incident occurring in Yemen’s Marib province.

    This increase in drone losses coincides with an intensified offensive by Houthi rebels, raising concerns about the strategic impact and evolving threats in the region.

    This recent series of shootdowns, now totaling six, has significant financial implications, given that each Reaper drone costs approximately $30 million.

    The operational capability of these UAVs — being able to fly at high altitudes for extended periods — has been a critical component of the United States’ strategy to secure vital waterways in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, as well as to monitor hostile activities.

    Despite these losses, a U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, stated, “the U.S. Air Force has not lost any aircraft operating within U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility,” declining to provide further details.

    This statement contrasts with the evidence on the ground and suggests a degree of sensitivity or discrepancy surrounding US drone operations in the area.

    The most recent downing of an MQ-9 Reaper was reported when Houthi forces released footage purportedly showing the UAV being targeted with a surface-to-air missile.

    Images from the aftermath show the Reaper largely intact, although the tail assembly was disconnected, and at least one hatch was opened.

    The lack of any clear blast damage implies that the drone was not hit directly by the missile but perhaps brought down by other means.

    The Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the repeated downings, targeting the drones as part of their broader campaign against shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The rebels have demanded an end to the conflict in Gaza, which has taken a severe toll on Palestinian lives.

    The Houthis’ actions have seen more than 50 attacks on shipping since November, including the seizure of one vessel and the sinking of another, significantly disrupting maritime traffic in a region crucial to global trade.

    The broader geopolitical context cannot be ignored. The Houthi offensive against US assets coincides with an intensifying maritime security challenge in the region.

    The ongoing war in Gaza, beginning in October 2023 with a Hamas-led assault on Israel, has killed thousands and has seen a hostage crisis unfold, adding layers of complexity to the US’s engagement in Middle Eastern affairs.

    Since Yemen’s civil war started in 2014, when the Houthis seized most of the country’s north and its capital of Sanaa, the U.S. military has lost at least five drones to the rebels.

    This month alone, there’s been two others suspected shootdowns of Reapers that the American military hasn’t confirmed.

    Relevant articles:
    US ‘Loses’ 6th MQ-9 Reaper Drone Since October 2023; Yemen Troops Celebrate Atop ‘Near Intact’ UAV , EurAsian Times, 05/30/2024
    Another US military MQ-9 Reaper drone goes down in Yemen, images purportedly show, ABC News, 05/29/2024
    Another US MQ-9 Reaper drone goes down in Yemen, images purportedly show, Yahoo News UK, 05/29/2024
    China Calls F-35 A “Frankenstein’s Monster”; US Reports 2nd Crash Of F-35 Aircraft In Mere 9 Months, EurAsian Times, 05/29/2024

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