The combat aircraft and attack helicopters of the Arab coalition fighting Houthi forces in Yemen are facing a new threat. Shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.
Although uncertain how many of these MANPADS the Houthi soldiers have, the recent loss of a United Arab Emirates Air Force Mirage 2000-9 shows that close-air support is getting more tricky.
Downed the UAE jet
What exactly downed the French-made UAE jet with the loss of both crew is now a big question. The official statement of the Ministry of Defence in Abu Dhabi is that the aircraft had a technical malfunction and crashed into a mountain. Other sources claim that it was shot down. The latter is now supported by a recent news story in the normally well-informed British newspaper The Independent.
“SA-7 took down the jet”
According to claims made public by The Independent a Soviet-made 9K32 Strela-2 – popular known in NATO countries as SA-7 Grail – heat-seeking missile took down the jet, while the plane was flying low-level fly-by, possibly using its on-board gun against enemy positions.
Until recently Houthi rebels and their allies (sometimes described as Al-Quada on the Arab Peninsula or AQAP) are known to have deployed anti-aircraft guns against Arab coalition combat aircraft, but if true the deployment of the MANPADS is a new chapter in the air-to-ground operations in the war struck Southwest Asian country. So far at least four fast jets and at least one Saudi Arabian AH-64 Apache helicopter have been lost on the Arab coalition side in the recent Yemen war.
© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Mirage 2000 fighter from the United Arab Emirates in 2008 (Image © Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon / USAF)