German navy almost shot down US drone in Red Sea- Reports

AFP , Wednesday 28 Feb 2024

A German naval frigate sent to protect commercial ships in the Red Sea nearly shot down a US drone by mistake, German media reported Wednesday.

German navy
File photo: The frigate F 221 Hessen of the German Bundesmarine navy leaves its home port Wilhelmshaven for the Mediterranean Sea. AFP


The German defence ministry confirmed a drone incident involving an allied nation occurred on Monday, without naming the country.

The "Hesse" frigate opened fire after efforts to identify an unknown drone "were unsuccessful", Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said during a visit to the German town of Oberviechtach, adding however that the target was "not hit".

The drone later turned out to be a "reconnaissance drone", he said.

According to Der Spiegel weekly, the frigate fired two missiles at the drone but both crashed into the sea because of "a technical defect".

Spiegel, without citing its sources, said the drone that was nearly downed was a US Reaper.

It might have been operating in the region "as part of an American anti-terror mission" unrelated to the Red Sea mission, Spiegel added.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper said it was "common knowledge that American combat drones are used in the region that have nothing to do with the operation in the Red Sea".

The German defence ministry said the frigate only launched an attack after none of its allies reported a drone in the area.

Spiegel said military officials believed the friendly fire incident showed that coordination between allies involved in various missions in the region around Yemen "needs to be improved".

The "Hesse" arrived in the region at the weekend as part of an EU mission to help secure international shipping in the Red Sea from attacks by Yemen's Houthis.

The German army earlier on Wednesday said the frigate had successfully thwarted an attack on Tuesday evening by shooting down two drones launched by the rebels.

The Houthis, who control much of war-torn Yemen, have been targeting Israel-linked vessels since November in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

By disrupting the vital shipping lane, they hope to pressure Israel to halt its war on Gaza and allow humanitarian aid access for Palestinians in the territory, some on the brink of famine.

The United States is spearheading its own naval coalition in the area and has conducted strikes on the Houthis in Yemen along with Britain in what they say is "exclusively an act of self-defence."

The Hesse arrived in the region at the weekend after the German parliament approved its participation in the mission on Friday, according to the army.

France, Italy and Belgium have also said they plan to contribute ships.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online


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