In Yemeni Airspace.. Western Technology Faces Innovations of Necessity
Yemen: Translated from Almayadeen
One of the most important characteristics of the war in Yemen since 2015 is that it has proven that the Saudi Air Force is not superior to Yemeni Air Defense. No matter how simple or outdated the Yemeni weapons, as long as they are used in innovative ways, limiting the huge technological gaps between Saudi warplanes and Yemeni air defense units. This strategy clearly contributed to the shooting down of large numbers of warplanes, helicopters and drones, some of them were among the most recent types in the Air Forces of the Middle East.
Apache helicopters … First catch
It was reported that the first shooting down of a coalition aircraft by the Yemeni air defenses was in May 2015. It was a US-made “Apache” combat helicopter belonging to the Saudi Land Forces’ Aviation, and it was shot down by a shoulder-fired missile.
It is worth noting that the Apache helicopters are produced by the US company “Boeing”. They are considered the main combat helicopters in the UAE Air Force, which has 30 helicopters, while the Saudi land forces have 82 helicopters of this type, in addition to 72 other helicopters of the “A” version. It is owned by the Saudi National Guard.
Available statistics show that the total number of “Apache” helicopters, which have been confirmed to be downed by the Yemeni air defenses, are 9 helicopters. Two of them are belonged to the UAE Air Force, and the rest are for Saudi ground forces. The last of these helicopters was downed in late November 2019, in Asir, by a new type of Air Defense missile, with no more revealed details.
Several other types of helicopters were shot down in Yemen, including two US-made transport helicopters belonging to the Saudi Air Force, in 2017, and a transport helicopter belonging to the UAE Air Force in August 2017, after a UAE light combat helicopter had been shot down in June 2016 in the Gulf of Aden, that was targeted in the Yemeni airspace.
Domestic-Made Defense Systems
The European-made “Tornado” fighter bombers was the most type that was dropped in Yemeni airspace, two of them were downed in the 2017, and the third was shot down in Al-Jawf on last February. All these aircrafts of this type are belonged to the Saudi Air Force, which is the only air force in the Middle East region that uses this type of fighter bombers.
This type of fighter-bomber was first shot down by using domestically developed air defense system in Yemen, which is “Fater 1” system, that was a comprehensive local development and rehabilitation of missiles of the medium-range air defense system “SAM-6”.
After Tornado, the newest US F-15 fighters in the Saudi arsenal are downed, two of them were shot down, the first in March 2015, and the other in March 2018, noting that the Saudi Air Force possesses about 40 warplanes of this type.
Other warplanes were added to the above, including a Jordanian F-16 fighter jet that was shot down in February 2017, an Emirati Air Force AT80 light bomber that was shot down in September 2017, an Emirati A Mirage 2000 fighter jet was downed in March 2016, and a Saudi Typhoon fighter jet was shot down in September 2017.
It is worth noting that some of these fighters were targeted by another home-made air defense system, which is “Thaqib 3”.
The Emirati and Saudi air forces used a variety of drones, whose tasks varied between monitoring, surveillance and offensive operations, including the “”Seeker-400 drone”, which was used by the Saudi army to carry out reconnaissance operations of frontlines of the Yemeni-Saudi border (Asir – Najran – Jizan).
The UAE Air Force owns 11 drones of this type. 4 of them were shot down, one of which is an Emirati, and the rest of them belong to the Saudi army, the first was shot down in July 2015, and the latest was shot down in November 2018. This “drone” is characterized by the ability to fly for 16 hours. With a range of 260 km, and can carry electronic sensors and cameras weighing up to 100 kg, with the possibility of providing it with two laser-guided missiles.
In addition, the Saudi Air Force used in its operations in northern Yemen a “German-made Drone”, the near-reconnaissance “LUNAX – 2000”. One of these “drones” was shot down in April 2015. This type can be equipped with radio frequency jamming, and characterized by a maximum speed of 70 km per hour, and a continuous flight duration of 6 to 8 hours.
The Chinese offensive drone “Wing Long-2”, was added to drones used by the Emirati and Saudi armies in their operations in Yemen, which is which specializes in land bombardment, in addition to its ability to conduct imaging and reconnaissance.
Three drones of this type were downed, in 2016, and two others in 2019. As well as, there are 5 another Chinese CH-4 drones, were downed between July 2018 and January 2020.
Six Austrian-made camcopter-S100 helicopters of the UAE Air Force were shot down, the first was shot down in August 2015, and the last was shot down in June 2019. This helicopter is intended for photography and close monitoring operations, and it can be equipped with light missiles.