Yemeni pilots are now flying IOMAX AT-802 light strike aircraft out of Al-Anad Air Base in the south of the country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) revealed on 28 October.
The UAE’s official WAM news agency reported that the country’s military is currently putting several Yemeni pilots through extensive flight training at Al-Anad, which it said has been renovated by the coalition that launched a military operation in March to re-install Yemen’s ousted president. Yemeni forces, backed by an Emirati battlegroup that was landed at Aden, recaptured the air base in August.
WAM reported that the aim is to train a Yemeni force that can “further enhance military operations in the province of Taizz” and added that the Yemeni pilots had already carried out strikes against weapons depots and vehicles in the cities of Taizz and Al-Baydah, where Yemeni militias fighting on behalf of the ousted government are struggling to defeat opposition forces.
WAM also released photographs showing that the aircraft being flown by the Yemenis are AT-802s, which are Air Tractor airframes modified by the US company IOMAX into the Block 1/2 Border Patrol Aircraft (BPA) configuration. At least three such aircraft were seen at Al-Anad in footage broadcast by Abu Dhabi TV on the same day.
The aircraft seen in the footage were fitted with IOMAX’s centreline pod, which carries an electro-optical system, datalink, and potentially missile-warning and countermeasure systems. They were armed with Roketsan Cirit laser-guided missile pods and guided bombs, probably either GBU-12 or GBU-58 Paveway IIs.
The UAE received 24 Block 1/2 BPAs, of which six Block 1s have been donated to Jordan. The rest were expected to be phased out of service as IOMAX delivers 24 of the new Archangel variant to the UAE.