An American MQ-9 Ripper unmanned aerial vehicle was downed on Wednesday evening off the coast of Yemen, as confirmed by a U.S. defense official speaking to CBS News. The Pentagon official noted that the drone was operating in international airspace, specifically over international waters in that region.
A spokesperson for the Houthi group in Yemen announced on the X social network that their air defenses had successfully shot down an American aircraft. In their statement, the self-proclaimed Houthi armed forces of Yemen said: "Our air defenses managed to shoot down the American plane 'MQ-9 Ripper' while it was engaged in hostile surveillance and espionage activities in the airspace of Yemeni territorial waters.
The Yemeni armed forces assert their legitimate right to defend the country and face all hostile threats. Enemy movements will not deter the Yemeni armed forces from continuing to conduct military operations against the Israeli entity in support of the oppression of the Palestinian people." This statement was posted on Twitter.
MQ-9 drones are primarily employed for surveillance and intelligence gathering, but they are also capable of executing strikes on specific targets. A Pentagon official also confirmed the downing of the 'MQ-9 Ripper' drone to the 'New York Times,' though the details regarding whether the aircraft was armed and its exact mission destination were not disclosed.
This incident marks a recent escalation in tensions between the U.S. and groups in Yemen with affiliations to Iran, Iraq, and Syria, as reported by the American newspaper. The Iranian-backed Houthis had fired rockets at Israel just last week, following an earlier incident where a U.S.
Navy destroyer in the Red Sea intercepted missiles from Yemen, which were potentially aimed at Israel. The Pentagon had acknowledged last week that the MQ-9 had conducted surveillance over Gaza to gather intelligence on hostages held by Hamas since October 7.
A U.S. official stated that the U.S. Central Command is presently assessing the incident. On the Telegram social network, the Houthis shared a video of the downing of the American drone 'MK-9 Ripper' over Yemeni territorial waters.
An expensive American drone was purportedly shot down by an aging Soviet anti-aircraft defense system known as the Kub, which was manufactured in 1977."