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CENTCOM says Iranian MANPADS fired at UAV

17 June 2019
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Ansar Allah fighters inspect the wreckage of a UAV that was shot down in Yemen on 6 June. CENTCOM has confirmed it was a US-operated MQ-9. Source: Al-Masirah TV

Iranian personnel attempted to disrupt US surveillance of one of the two tankers that was attacked in the Gulf of Oman on 13 June by firing a man-portable air defence system (MANPADS) at an MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a 16 June statement.

It identified the MANPADS as an Iranian-modified SA-7 - the US code for the Soviet Strela-2 - saying it "was ineffective and its closest point of approach to the MQ-9 was approximately one kilometre".

CENTCOM said it had also assessed that Iran assisted in the shooting down of a US-operated MQ-9 that was shot down over Yemen on 6 June. "The altitude of the engagement indicated an improvement over previous Houthi capability, which we assess was enabled by Iranian assistance," the statement said.

It added that the UAV was hit by an SA-6 surface-to-air missile (SAM): the US code for the 2K12 Kub/Kvadrat, a Soviet self-propelled SAM system that was in service with the Yemeni military before the current conflict began in 2015.

The statement confirmed the claim by the Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (also known as the Houthis) that it had shot down a US MQ-9 UAV operating along the country's west coast on 6 June. It released video footage showing a missile being launched into the night and a burning aircraft falling from the sky, as well as the wreckage of an MQ-9 being inspected the following day.

This follows claims the group also shot down US MQ-1s in March and May and a Chinese-made Wing Loong in April. The latter claim was supported by video footage of the burning aircraft falling to the ground and imagery of the resulting wreckage.

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