This is how Yemen destroyed half of the US Navy’s MQ-9 Reaper holdings

As part of its presentation of the importance of the MQ-9 Reaper, General Atomics, a manufacturer of the aircraft, says: “Advanced expeditionary basic operations are a form of expeditionary warfare that involves the use of low-signature, operational-related, and relatively easy to maintain and sustain the naval expeditionary forces from a series of strict and temporary positions on the beach or on the beach within a disputed area or ‘a maritime area likely to be disputed in order to prevent maritime navigation, support maritime control, or enable fleet continuity’,” as described in the official doctrine of the Marine Corps.

Zakaria Al-Sharabi – Al-Khabar Al-Yemeni:

Work on the MQ-9 Reaper program began in 2001 by the US Department of Defense, and training on it started in 2007. This weapon remained exclusive to the Air Force and the special forces known as JSOC, through which Washington conducted espionage and dirty assassination operations, turning the world into an open warfield. MQ-9 was like a hammer, always looking for a nail.

Later, the Air Forces of the UK, France, Spain, and Italy were added to the list of MQ-9 Reaper users, and it has not yet gone beyond the scope of these countries.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the value of an MQ-9 aircraft is $30 million, and the US has spent a lot of money on it. The US Air Force has purchased 366 aircraft of this type, and recently the experience has transitioned to the Navy, where it is presented, according to General Atomics company description, as “the cornerstone of the unmanned expeditionary campaign concept for the Marine Corps, which takes the traditional Marine air-ground task force and eliminates much of its previous heavy equipment. The MQ-9 is sent to work as a lighter but more lethal reserve force, exploiting new networks and new weapons with the same audacity as the old Marine infantry.”

In 2018, the US Navy was using two MQ-9A Reapers on lease from General Atomics company, and in 2021, these two aircraft were purchased, which was considered an important step in enhancing naval priorities.

The US Navy has submitted requests for the development of the aircraft in 2022 as part of a deal that includes eight aircraft worth $274 million. The modifications include integrating the aircraft with tools that provide it with broad intelligence, surveillance, and long-range reconnaissance capabilities for the Marine Corps infantry force and the ability to fly for more than thirty hours, and the cost of the modifications alone amounted to $34 million. In fiscal year 2024, a deal was signed to purchase five aircraft worth $190 million, bringing the total number of MQ-9 aircraft purchased by the US Navy in the past three years to 15.

One of the most significant modifications proposed by the US Navy and responded to by General Atomics was the addition of new flexibility through its self-protection compartment, which adds threat detection and full countermeasures similar to those found on fourth-generation fighter aircraft, as the Reaper can sense surface-to-air threats and launch balloons or flares to simulate an incoming missile.

Yemen shatters the myth of the MQ-9 and its modifications:

Since the US Navy began its war against Yemen with the aim of protecting Israeli ships, the US forces have prepared the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft to be at the forefront of military operations, carrying out intelligence and reconnaissance missions that cannot be accomplished through satellites. However, what the Americans did not anticipate is that this battle would mark the end of the legend of luxury drones, and shooting down this type of self-protected aircraft would become a source of entertainment for the Yemenis.

In a humiliating manner for the US weapon, the Yemeni armed forces have shot down six MQ-9 Reaper aircraft since November of last year, with three of them being shot down in the past two weeks, bringing the total number of downed Reaper aircraft in Yemen now to 10, including 4 that were previously shot down while Washington was participating in the Saudi-Emirati coalition’s war on Yemen.

This is no longer a coincidence, and the US didn’t entrust the downing of its aircraft. Throughout the program’s existence, only 15 downing operations have been reported, with three in Libya, one in Iraq, and one in the Black Sea, with Russia being accused of shooting it down while Russia denied the accusation. However, 10 of these operations occurred in Yemen. This has led Washington to adopt a policy of ignoring the recent two operations. However, India’s concerns have been raised by the Yemeni operations, which were about to conclude a deal to purchase the MQ-9 Reaper in order to confront stronger enemies compared to Yemen, such as China and Pakistan.

In just six months, Yemen has downed nearly half of the aircraft owned by the US Navy, adding another dilemma for the forces drowning in the quagmire of the Red Sea as the targeting of its battleships has become routine, occurring daily and sometimes hourly. What is even more dangerous is that Yemen could benefit from the wreckage of the downed aircraft by revealing the aircraft’s technology to America’s enemies, or that America’s enemies could benefit from Sana’a’s experience in neutralizing this type of aircraft.

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