US acknowledged one of its unmanned observation aircraft was shot down over Yemen on June 6, according to a statement by Central Command.
CENTCOM said the MQ-9 Reaper was shot down by Houthi forces with a SA-6 surface-to-air missile, claiming that the missile was enabled with Iranian assistance.
The drone was shot down June 6 by what officials believe was a SA-6 missile, the statement said, noting that the incident shows improved capability of the Houthi fighters.
Meanwhile, the CENTCOM said another surface-to-air missile — a modified SA-7 was shot a week later (Thursday, June 13) at another MQ-9 over the Gulf of Oman, but adding that it missed its target.
In this context, the CENTCOM claimed that the missile was Iranian and failed to shoot down an MQ-9 that was observing the M/T Kokuka Courageous, one of the two tankers that were attacked in the Gulf of Oman.
“Subsequent analysis indicates that this was a likely attempt to shoot down or otherwise disrupt the MQ-9 surveillance of the IRGC attack on the M/T Kokuka Courageous,” CENTCOM spokesman Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement, referring to Iran’s Islamic Republic Guard Corps (IRGC).
On Thursday, two oil tankers – one sailing under a Panama flag and owned by Japan and another bearing the Marshall Islands’ ensign owned by Norwegian Frontline – were hit by yet unspecified accidents in the Sea of Oman. Iranian rescuers rushed to the assistance, transferring all of their 44 crew members to Iran’s southern shores.
US blamed Iran for the attack, but Tehran firmly rejected US accusations as baseless, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accusing Washington of adopting “sabotage diplomacy” against the Islamic Republic.