US ‘Loses’ 6th MQ-9 Reaper Drone Since October 2023; Yemen Troops Celebrate Atop ‘Near Intact’ UAV

The U.S. has reportedly lost its sixth MQ-9 Reaper drone since October 2023. Images and videos stormed social media, showing Yemen forces standing atop the UAV and celebrating.

Images published online and analyzed by The Associated Press showed the MQ-9 on its belly in the barren desert in Marib, its tail assembly disconnected from the rest of its body. At least one hatch on the drone seemed to have been opened after it landed, though the drone remained largely intact without any clear blast damage.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, told the AP that “the U.S. Air Force has not lost any aircraft operating within U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.” The official declined to elaborate.

Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza in October 2023, six US drones have been shot down by the Houthis, with the first incident happening in November 2023, followed by subsequent shootdowns in February, April, and now thrice in May.


Reapers, which cost around $30M each, are advanced drones capable of flying at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet and can remain airborne for up to 24 hours. Their loss signifies a substantial financial and strategic setback for the US military operations in the region.

Since mid-January, CENTCOM forces have been targeting Houthi positions in Yemen. These drones deter attacks on shipping routes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Pentagon has emphasized that these drones are critical for ensuring the safety of commercial mariners and US service members in these vital waterways.

File Image: MQ-9 Drpne

The US also lost two more MQ-9 Reapers in the past year: one shot down over Iraq in January, and another forced to crash into the Black Sea after a collision with a Russian fighter jet in March 2023.

The repeated loss of high-value drones highlights the persistent and evolving threat from Houthi forces in the region while also revealing the vulnerabilities of these drones in contested environments.

Via: ET Desk