By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
The Saudi-led airstrikes which commenced late on the 25th of March on Yemen reportedly hit a large number of targets throughout the country, yet mainly focussed on the single S-125, three S-75 and two 2K12 SAM sites around the capital of Sana'a. Also hit early on was the airbase of al-Dailami, which shares the runway with Sana'a International Airport. Although the assets available to the coalition of nine nations is undoubtedly the most high tech in the region, a neighbouring housing block got tragically obliterated, killing at least 18 civilians.
It is as of yet unknown wether all of Yemen's air and anti-air assets were destroyed, but Saudi Arabia claims all SAM sites as well as four aircraft on the ground were neutralised. Although Houthi media reports that two Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) and two United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) aircraft were shot down, considering the state of the Yemeni air defense apparatus (which was taken over by the Houthis in recent months) and the fact that no images of these alleged shoot downs have been released this seems very unlikely.
Now pictures have emerged showing one of the main hangars on the part of al-Dailami housing a part of the Yemeni Air Force's (Y.A.F.) U.S.-delivered aircraft in ruins after a strike by the Saudi-led coalition. Among the equipment destroyed in this raid are at least one AB.412 helicopter, one UH-1H helicopter and one CN-235 military transport aircraft.
A total of four ex-U.S. UH-1H-IIs were donated to Yemen in 2010 as part of an aid deal worth $27 million. The UH-1Hs were upgraded to UH-1H-II standard before their delivery and safely arrived in Yemen in early 2011. While originally delivered to aid Yemen's Saleh government in its fight against terrorism, they spent most of their time on the ground as the Y.A.F. found its brand new Russian Mi-171Shs more suitable for the task.
The order for the CN-235 was placed in early 2011 under a $38 million military aid grant, and was thus paid for entirely by the U.S.A. While the aircraft was ready for delivery at the end of 2012, it remained in storage in Spain and was only transferred to Yemen by the end of 2013, underscoring Yemen's lack of enthusiasm about receiving the aircraft. The CN-235 entered service in 2014, and was used to ferry materiel and manpower around the country.
The completely burned-out wreckage of the CN-235 (title image) now lays sadly in it hangar, an ironic reminder of how the geopolitical field can swiftly make a ridicule of past relations. This is especially true in Yemen, where situations often develop faster than the media can track them, which has now culminated in yet another open Middle Eastern war.
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