"US forces are still assessing the results of the strike following a deliberate process to confirm his death", the spokesman for US Central Command, Navy Capt. William Urban, said.
A defense official told VOA that the US was waiting for the results of a DNA test before formally declaring al-Badawi deceased.
The New York Times reported that he helped Yemeni authorities track down five other wanted al-Qaeda operatives. Dozens more sailors were wounded.
In 2003, a grand jury indicted Al-Badawi with 50 counts of various terrorism charges, including the murder of USA nationals and military personnel.
Al-Badawi also landed himself on the FBI's list of "Most Wanted Terrorists."
The Cole was attacked by suicide bombers in a small boat laden with explosives while in port in Aden, Yemen, for refueling.
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A USA grand jury indicted him in 2003 for his role in the bombing, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation offered a reward of up to $5m (£4m) for information leading to his arrest.
The attack's alleged planner, Saudi-born Abd al-Nashiri, is being held in USA custody at Guantanamo Bay and could face the death penalty.
Harithi and Quso have both been killed by USA forces, while Nashiri and Attash have been held by the United States in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp since their capture in the early 2000s.
Al-Badawi is also not the first high profile al Qaeda target that the USA has killed in Yemen. Al-Qaeda's top regional official and overall second-in-command, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, was taken out by a drone in 2015.
He was widely credited with perfecting miniaturized bombs with little or no metal content that could make it past some airport security screening.
There were 36 military airstrikes in Yemen in 2018, mostly targeting AQAP with a couple targeting IS forces in Yemen.