U.S. Reaper Drone Shot Down Over Yemen
U.S. Central Command has acknowledged the loss of a MQ-9 Reaper drone in Yemen, just as video of a Reaper-like drone emerged on the internet. It’s unknown what the drone was doing or how it was shot down when the incident took place.
Major Earl Brown, CENTCOM spokesman, told Military.com, “We assess that an MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was shot down in western Yemen on Oct. 1, 2017.”
At the same time, at least three alleged videos of the incident emerged on YouTube. Chronologically arranged, they appear to depict the incident from start to finish.
In the first video, a surface to air missile launches from the ground and flies skyward. There is a brief flash and a distant object is seen falling through the air. It is not clear what kind of surface to air missile was used.
In the second video, a Reaper-like drone is seen corkscrewing through the air, falling straight down, on fire and missing a wing. One of the landing gear wheels is visible in the down position. The drone explodes upon landing in what looks like a residential area. The drone appears to have been unarmed.
In the third video, a number of Yemeni men are clustered around the fallen drone. The names of at least three American companies are visible on the burned and damaged drone parts.
Popular Mechanics cannot verify the veracity of the videos and their connection to the Reaper crash. However, all were uploaded within the last 24 hours, and two of them clearly show the shootdown of a Reaper-like drone or the remains of an American-built UAV.
The MQ-9 Reaper drone is the original MQ-1 Predator’s bigger, more lethal brother. Typically used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions or to conduct air strikes, the Reaper is equipped with a Multi-Spectral Targeting System allowing operators, typically thousands of miles away in places like Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, to observe targets in day or night conditions.
The Reaper drone is also rated to carry much more weaponry than the Predator. While the Predator carries just two Hellfire missiles, the Reaper can carry four. The MQ-9 can also carry two 500 pound GBU-38 Joint Directed Attack Munition (JDAM) satellite guided bombs or 500 pound GBU-28 Paveway II laser guided bombs.