Saudi warplanes have been such a common sight over northern Yemen it seems almost impossible how few Yemeni anti-aircraft weaponry have actually managed to target. The Houthi movement, however, claimed a Sunday shoot down of a Saudi Tornado warplane over Saada.
The plane crashed in Saada Province, and Saudis confirmed that much, adding that they deployed special forces into the area to recover the two pilots, who apparently were able to survive the crash.
Saudi officials don’t appear to want to admit to a shoot-down, however, and rather say that the plane crashed on its own do to some as-yet-unspecified “technical fault.” They offered no further details beyond the recovery of the pilots.
The Tornado is a British-made warplane from BAE Systems, initially introduced in the 1980s and still in use mostly in Western Europe. Saudi Arabia had 82 Tornados in service as of 2011, and contracts with BAE for upgrades to keep them operational through 2025.