Yemen’s Houthis Claim Saudi F-15 Kill with SAM Over Capital City of Santis

FLIR Images Show F-15 Shoot-Down, Weapon Used May Have Been Repurposed AAM.

Images and video have surfaced of what is claimed to be a Royal Saudi Air Force F-15 Eagle being shot down by an unspecified surface to air (SAM) missile over Yemen’s capital city of Sanaa. The video is alleged to have been obtained using a ground-mounted forward-looking infra-red sensor usually mounted on helicopters for surveillance and targeting: most probably a Flir Systems ULTRA 8500.

The clip appears to show an F-15 Eagle, version unknown.

The video is shot from the right side of the aircraft, and as the aircraft rolls right, the height of the starboard (right) vertical stabilizer/rudder appears to be shorter than normal on an F-15, as though part of it is already missing: someone suggested that may have already sustained damaged to at least one of its vertical stabilizers even though this seems to be a bit far-fetched based on the available clip.

The F-15 as seen from the FLIR Systems camera (the presence of the logo is weird/unusual).

Immediately after this right rolling maneuver two bright objects, glowing from their heat signature in the infra-red video, are separated from the aircraft that lit the afterburners (based on the glowing . These seem to be flares, countermeasures ejected against heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles.

The missile nears the F-15 seemingly flying with afterburners (YT screenshot)

The aircraft then rolls right again and the profile of the F-15’s canopy can be seen, appearing to be a single-seat version, but difficult to confirm from the poor quality infra-red video.

A large object enters the frame from below, presumably a surface-to-air missile, either impacts the F-15 (whose engine heat signature has increased, suggesting the use of afterburner) or possibly detonates a proximity warhead near it or against a flare. The video ends without showing what happened to the F-15 following the apparent missile hit. The aircraft seems to continue flying more or less unscathed.

The F-15 is hit by the missile (YT screenshot)

Text in the YouTube video caption reads in Arabic, “The first sight of the moment hit and shot down a Saudi F-15 aircraft in the atmosphere of the Yemeni capital Sanaa” (the image used as preview in the video below does not show the RSAF F-15 but the Russian Air Force Su-24 hit by a Turkish AF F-16 in November 2015..).

Information that surfaced on Twitter shortly after the video released suggested the aircraft may have been shot down by a S-75 Dvina surface-to-air missile, a version of the venerable SA-2 Guideline SAM missile. However several sources are increasingly suggesting the F-15 was targeted by a modified R-27T based on claims that Houthis have modified a number AAMs (air-to-air missiles) to be launched from pick-ups.

The R-27 (AA-10 Alamo-B), is an IR-homing, missile with a maximum range of 63 km and a theoretical maximum allowed vertical separation of 10 km meters altitude.

If the claim of the F-15 aircraft being shot down by Houthis is confirmed, this may be one of the few instances any version of the F-15 Eagle has been shot down. The U.S. suffered the loss of F-15E Strike Eagles to anti-aircraft fire during the Gulf War back in 1991.

The Royal Saudi Air Force is believed to have a fleet of 129 active single-seat F-15C Eagles and F-15S ground attack/multi-role aircraft along with the first 13 (of 84 ordered) new F-15SA attack aircraft,

File photo of Saudi F-15 Eagle. (Photo: via Yemeni Observer)

In October 2017, the Houthi rebels claimed to have shot down a Saudi Typhoon involved in a mission supporting Operation Decisive Storm, the Saudi-led air war on the Houthi rebels in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

H/T @phxasc for providing many details about the alleged downing.

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on,, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.


  1. how hard is it to switch off infra-red mode and show the jet burning ? (serious question cause I know jack shit about military equipment)

    • There are several reasons why Arab armies are mostly ineffective. This article goes a bit into detail and it’s very interesting.

      When western forum posters are boasting about military success and fighter kills against Arabs (and their Soviet equipment), when the soldiers and pilots lack basic abilities to understand how to use technology, it is a bit silly. Even if Iraq had F-15s and F/A-18s they would not have performed much better. But it seems at least for the SAA, the Russian influence has changed a bit in regard to endurance and tactics. Before, Arab army units were already withdrawing when they suffered minor losses.

      Quote from the article:
      “It is particularly dangerous to make facile assumptions about abilities in warfare based on past performance, for societies evolve and so does the military subculture with it. The dismal French performance in the 1870 Franco-Prussian war led the German high command to an overly optimistic assessment prior to World War I. Then tenacity and courage of French soldiers in World War I lead everyone from Winston Churchill to the German high command vastly to overestimate the French army’s fighting abilities. Israeli generals underestimated the Egyptian army of 1973 based on Egypt’s hapless performance in the 1967 war.”

  2. Saudis admitted the loss of F-15 and of Tornado fighter-bomber. Imagine if more modern Buk-M2 and S-300PMU2 were used? F-15s would be sitting ducks. Never mind Buk-M3 and S-400. Heck, F-117 was shot down by Yugoslavia in 1999 with 1970s Soviet system.

    • Russian SAM’s work best agasinst passenger planes…in Syria they can’t even stop 30 year old Israeli planes from striking hezbollah at will

      • How would that work exactly given putins agreement with netanyahu?? Didn’t think of that, did you?

      • You might want to take a look at a map. The Israeli strikes were always in an area near Damascus. The Russian S300 and S400 are far up in the north. How long does it take a Israeli missile to fly 20 km over the Lebanese border to it’s target (that’s the actual window for an intercept)? How long would it take the missile from Latakia or Tartus to cover the distance?

        And then there’s Lebanese territory to cross for the Russian missiles. That would be a violation of another countries airspace. The Israelis obviously don’t care about international law and just fly there. And for western MSM it’s not worth to mention it (double standards again). But imagine the outrage in western MSM if Russian missiles would cross Lebanese airspace. They already tried that when Russian Kalibr missiles flew through Iranian airspace but then Iran clearly said they were allowed to do so.

        • The air defense assets in Latakia and tartus are there to protect Russian forces only.. contrary to what all the trolls here say. They’re not there to start ww3 over Syria.

          • I know. Apart from what you posted, there is another reason not to do that. I wanted to point that out.

        • And there’s this thing called radar horizon.

          Even without mountains, due to the curvature of the Earth, all Israelis would need to do to avoid being hit at the distance of 100km is stay below 500m,

          And Latakia is 250 km from Damascus.Radar horizon at that distance is at 3500m. So, they could fly at 3000m and ground based Russian radars couldn’t even detect them.

          They do have A-50U AWACS over there, but it’s really far fetched that S-400 missile launched from Latakia would successfully hit Israeli plane 250 kilometers away.

          • Thanks for the additional information.

            Apart from AWACS, there are other OTH radar systems but just not in Syria and only suitable as early warning radar.

            Short list:
            PLUTO / PLUTO-II
            29B6 aka DOUGA

            • Sure, but that depends on wavelength.
              Here we’re dealing with mm and cm wavelength.
              Duga for example, works in shortwave (tens of meters).

              To have any kind of precision with such a long wavelengths, you need enormous antennas. Also, you have close to zero altitude precision.
              Completely useless for anything other than early warning or directing other, more accurate platforms.

    • We also don’t know what kind of SEAD was in place.. usually there will be a few jamming aircraft and the threat of Wild Weasels to keep the SAMs at least somewhat quiet.

      Looks like he had enough warning i.e. the flares but I did not see him take evasive action. Not sure if that’s due to two missiles coming at him.

    • “Saudis admitted the loss of F-15”
      I don’t suppose you have a link because I can find no official confirmation of the F-15 only the Tornado.

  3. Very nice work.

    There’s always a great contrast between the Shiite elements in the Middle East, and Sunnis like the Sunnis, especially the Saudis who can’t even put up a shed without having a hundred Indonesians to do it for them.

    It certainly makes one wonder about the wisdom of foreign policy that supports the later- especially when the Saudi government planned the 9/11 attacks.

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