A number of videos surfaced on Sunday (October 1) after a US surveillance drone was shot down in western Yemen.
The drone, an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle, was hit by Yemen's Houthi rebel military forces, according to a Reuters report that cited SABA, a news agency controlled by the Yemeni Houthi. The crippled, burnt drone plummeted to the ground in an area near Yemen's capital Sana'a and was later taken away in a truck.
On Monday, the US Central Command acknowledged the crash of the drone, with CENTCOM spokesman Major Earl Brown telling Military.com, "We assess that an MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was shot down in western Yemen on Oct. 1, 2017."
A Pentagon spokesperson also told US military news outlet Stars and Stripes that an official Department of Defense investigation has been launched into the incident. However, none of the officials confirmed the specifics of the drone's mission.
A Reuters' photographer captured the destroyed drone's rapid descent and crash and posted the video on Twitter.
Yemen's Al-Masirah TV network also shared a video of the incident, which apparently shows Houthi forces firing a missile that strikes the drone, as well as footage of the crowd gathered around the crashed drone. The authenticity of the video, however, has still not been verified.
The MQ-9 Reaper drone is typically deployed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and sometimes even for air strikes. The unmanned vehicle features a multi-spectral targeting system which enables its operators to see their targets in the day as well as night, even when they are thousands of miles away from it.
This drone is more lethal than the original MQ-1 Predator and can carry much more weaponry. To be specific, it can carry as many as four Hellfire missiles, two 500-pound GBU-38 JDAM satellite-guided bombs, or 500-pound GBU-28 Paveway II laser-guided bombs.
The Houthis are fighting against the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which the US supports with weapons and intelligence. Linked to Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah, the Houthis hold power in the north of the country as well as in Sana'a.