Houthis Make ‘Double Strike’ On US & UK! MQ-9 Reaper Drone Shot Down, British Vessel Sinks In The Red Sea?

Amid a surge in hostilities in the volatile Red Sea, the Yemen-based Houthi militia that the US and UK have been aggressively fighting may have scored points against both its adversaries.

A US MQ-9 drone was shot down by Yemen’s Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement’s air defense forces, the rebels claimed in a statement.

The group said in a statement that the drone was “carrying out hostile missions against our country on behalf of the Zionist entity.” The Houthis have warned all foreign states against assisting Israel in what it calls “genocide” against Gaza.

This is the second time that the US drone has been allegedly shot down by the Iran-backed rebels. Previously, in November 2023, Houthis shot down an MQ-9 Reaper off the coast of Yemen over the Red Sea.

This time, Houthis did not provide any evidence backing its claims of shooting the drone, but a video has been doing rounds on social media. The US is yet to respond to the claims at the time of writing this report.

The MQ-9 is referred to as a remotely piloted aircraft, or RPA, by the USAF Air Force and is as gigantic as an A-10 Thunderbolt II. With the right modifications, it can carry up to eight Hellfire missiles and 3,750 pounds of ordnance. It can also travel around 2,000 miles between refueling stops.

It is satellite-linked to the command center, so it can travel the entire world while its operator is thousands of miles away.

The US Air Force has been using the Reapers for surveillance and strike missions in the region. The Houthis said in its statement that the drone was shot over Yemen, which could mean that the UAV was carrying out spy missions over the country.

While the claims remain unverified, the US has been conducting “self-defense” air strikes on areas in Yemen that are under the control of the Houthis. Military watchers on social media postulated that the MQ-9 drone could have been dispatched to assist a similar air strike mission. 

The claims by Houthis came after the US military carried out five strikes against three mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, an underwater drone, and a surface vehicle on February 17, according to a report from the US Central Command (CENTCOM). According to the military, this was the Houthis’ first known use of an underwater drone since October 23, 2023.

The loss of an MQ-9 Reaper, if confirmed, could be another setback to the United States. A $10,000 missile knocking off a $30 million drone that boats of cutting-edge capabilities would be a big debacle for the United States. This would be the third loss of the Reaper since November. Last month, an MQ-9 Reaper was shot down in Iraq.

Show Down Near Yemen in November 2023: MQ-9 Reaper Drone

At the time, a drone crashed near the Balad Air Base and was recovered by the Iraqi Security Forces. An Iran-backed group of Iraqi militias – The Islamic Resistance in Iraq had claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Besides the US, its ally, the United Kingdom, also suffered a massive hit at the hands of the Houthis and lost another commercial vessel to a missile attack on February 19.

Houthis Take Out Another British Vessel

A spokesperson for the Houthi announced on Monday that the group had successfully destroyed a British cargo ship flying the Belizean flag.

“The ship suffered catastrophic damage and came to a complete halt,” Houthi spokesperson Yahya Sare’e said on social media. “As a result of the extensive damage the ship suffered, it is now at risk of potential sinking in the Gulf of Aden.”

It was damaged by an explosion that occurred “in close proximity of the vessel,” stated the UK Maritime Trade Operations agency. The agency also stated that the crew left the ship and was safe.

According to private security company Ambrey, the cargo ship, which is operated by Lebanese and sails under the flag of Belize, was passing through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait on its route to Bulgaria after departing from the United Arab Emirates when it was struck by Houthis.

Later, reports suggested that the ship’s crew had abandoned it after the attack. Lloyd’s List Intelligence reported that the Rubymar was hit by two missiles. According to some claims, the ship was sinking, which prompted the crew to vacate it immediately. The Houthis also noted in its statement that the Rubymar may be at risk of sinking.

“The ship suffered catastrophic damage and came to a complete halt,” the group said, without providing any evidence. ”As a result of the extensive damage the ship suffered, it is now at risk of potential sinking in the Gulf of Aden. During the operation, we made sure that the ship’s crew exited safely.”

The Houthis issued a warning after the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip intensified in October of last year. They said they would attack Israeli territory and prevent ships belonging to the Jewish state from crossing the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Red Sea until Tel Aviv stopped its military campaign against the radical Palestinian organization Hamas in the beleaguered enclave. 

The Houthis have assaulted numerous civilian vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since last November. This vital waterway, which is responsible for 12% of all seaborne trade worldwide, has been abandoned by several maritime companies due to these attacks.