O pro-Iran Houthi rebel groupwhich controls part of Yemen, claimed this Wednesday (8) to have shot down a United States Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone that was flying over its territory.
In a statement, the Houthis said the unmanned aircraft was shot down by the anti-aircraft defense system “while carrying out hostile activities, monitoring and spying on the airspace of Yemeni territorial waters, as part of American military support to the Israeli entity.”
It is estimated that the cost of a new MQ-9 Reaper is around US$30 million (R$147 million, at current prices).
This was the aircraft used by the US to kill Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qasem Soleimaniin January 2020, in Baghdad, capital of Iraq.
According to the rebels, the “hostile movements” of the United States will not prevent them from continue attacks towards Israelas they have done in recent weeks, in support of the terrorist group Hamas.
To date, there is no confirmation from the US Air Force regarding the drone’s interception. A US official, however, told Al Jazeera television that the military was already aware of the event.
This is not the first time that Houthi rebels have shot down this model of aircraft in Yemen. In August and June 2019, they managed to shoot down two MQ-9 Reapers.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a remotely piloted aircraft used primarily for intelligence gathering and for strike and reconnaissance missions.
It has a wingspan of 20.1 m, 11 m in length and 3.8 m in height. It has an empty weight of 2,223 kg and can reach a maximum takeoff weight of 4,760 kg. The Reaper is equipped with multi-spectrum sensors, including infrared and TV cameras for targeting purposes.
It can carry a variety of weaponry such as AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 Paveway II bombs. Furthermore, it has a flight range of up to 3,000 km and can reach altitudes of up to 15 km. The maximum speed is 445 km/h.
In the countries where it is used — the US, UK, Italy, France and Spain — the MQ-9 Reaper plays a crucial role in intelligence gathering and supporting military operations, providing high-precision surveillance and strike capabilities.