An Apache attack helicopter and a MALE (Medium-Range Long-Endurance) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle have been reportedly downed over Yemen.
Yemeni Houthi rebels have claimed the shooting down of an AH-64 Apache helicopter and a Wing Loong UAV in two separate incidents over Yemen in the last few days. Although most of reports say both aircraft are Saudi, it must be remembered that the same types are also operated by UAE, a key partner in a Saudi-led military coalition which intervened in Yemen in 2015 to back the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.
The gunship helicopter was downed near the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, killing two pilots on Nov. 29, 2019. The downing of the helicopter was filmed on video and images showing the aircraft on fire after being reportedly hit by a surface-to-air missile. The tail boom of the chopper detaches completely as the helo is about to impact with the ground.
— Seyyah News (@seyyahnews) November 30, 2019
— Strategic News (@StrategicNews1) December 1, 2019
Dealing with the UAV, we don’t have a video in this case (hence, it’s more difficult to verify whether it was really shot down or crashed because of technical reasons) but photos once again posted on social media show Houthi militia posing next to the wreckage of a Wing Loong II drone in the Hiran district of Hajjah Province, on Nov. 30, 2019.
The Wing Loong UAV, originally referred to as a Chengdu Pterodactyl I, is a heavily armed drone with an endurance of about 20 hours and a range of 4,000 kilometers. Wing Loong II UAVs have often been photographed flying over Libya where UAE, the launch customer for the Remotely Piloted Aircraft, is known to carry out precision strikes against Islamic militants in support of Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar. The Wing Loong II, an upgraded variant of the Wing Loong/Pterodactyl with provisions for up to twelve air-to-surface missiles, can carry the Chinese Blue Arrow-7 air-to-surface missile, or BA-7, a derivative of the Chinese semi-active laser guided HJ-10 for export market, with an effective range of 2 to 7 km and high-explosive anti-tank warhead. Interestingly, the one that crashed in Yemen seems to be pretty intact, sports the “20207” marking/serial number and appears to carry two Blue Arrow-7 air-to-surface anti-tank missiles under the wings.
Confirmed Houthis shoot down a Saudi “Wing Loong” UAV in Yemen Hiran district pic.twitter.com/rxbOORWOf1
— Harry Boone (@towersight) December 1, 2019
Neither incidents have been confirmed by the Saudi-led coalition that has been running a military campaign in Yemen for five years now. However, based on unofficial reports, with the two recent incidents at least 7 attack helicopters (6 Saudi and 1 UAE AH-64) and four drones (two Wing Loong II and two CASC CH-4B Rainbow) have been shot down or crashed during the operations aimed at dislodging the Houti rebels.