The U.S. military rescued two Saudi pilots Thursday when they ejected over the Gulf of Aden during combat operations against Houthi rebels in Yemen, the U.S. Central Command said.
The two airmen ejected from their F-15 and were rescued around 5:20 p.m. ET in international waters by a HH-60 helicopter, a U.S. defense official said Friday.
The mission was planned and executed by Air Force personnel recovery forces in Djibouti in cooperation with the Navy. The USS Sterett handled communication between the Air Force recovery forces who located the pilots--two HH-60 helicopters and an HC-130 air refueler--and the assets on the USS New York. Future recovery efforts likewise would almost certainly include both Navy and Air Force assets.
Also on Friday, Saudi Arabia praised the U.S. for helping an Arab air campaign against Yemen's rebels.
The Saudi ambassador in Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, said the U.S. has been "very supportive" of the operation politically and logistically. He said the kingdom is "very pleased" with the level of coordination with the U.S., which has established a joint planning cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. and military and intelligence support.
Al-Jubeir spoke after meetings with State Department officials.
Separately Friday, President Obama spoke by telephone with Saudi King Salman to discuss recent developments in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia bombed strongholds of the Shiite rebels for the second day Friday, seeking to knock out their air defenses before a possible ground invasion.
The Houthi rebels control Yemen's capital and several provinces.
Al-Jubeir said the mission was clear: support Yemen's legitimate government, protect civilians and prevent militants armed with heavy weapons, ballistic missiles and air power from "controlling, dominating and damaging Yemen and its people."
Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.