Amid the month-long Hamas barrage of more than 9,000 rockets against Israel and Hizbullah’s occasional anti-tank rockets, a new combatant appeared on the Middle East stage. On October 19, 2023, the USS Carney, a U.S. Navy destroyer, had just traversed the Suez Canal and entered the Red Sea when it detected and destroyed four northbound cruise missiles and 15 drones throughout a nine-hour engagement. Their trajectory suggested they were heading toward Israel, and the source of the attack was Houthi-held Yemen. The Carney fired SM-2 surface-to-air missiles in the clash; one Houthi missile is believed to have been intercepted by a Saudi Patriot missile. According to a U.S. Defense Department spokesman, the Houthi missiles have a 2,000 km range.1
Along with Hamas and Hizbullah, the Houthis are devout proxies of Iran and recipients of aid, weapons, and training from the Ayatollah regime.
Subsequently, on October 31, 2023, the Houthis launched a surface-to-surface ballistic missile toward Israel that was intercepted by an Israeli Arrow 2 missile, the system’s “baptism in fire” and first known military clash in space. On November 9, another ballistic missile was shot down over the Red Sea by the new Arrow 3 missile. The Arrow system detects, tracks, and intercepts ballistic missiles outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
On November 1, 2023, an Israeli Air Force F-35 shot down “a turbojet-powered cruise missile flying at high speed and low level.” The unmanned aircraft was identified as a Quds cruise missile.2
The Houthis have developed a broad spectrum of drones, rockets, and missiles, but in most cases, the weapons are knockoffs of Iranian models.
On September 21, 2023, the Houthis held a massive military parade in Saana to commemorate the anniversary of the Houthis revolution. Their latest missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other weaponry were displayed.3
The authoritative Janes Weapons reported on the weaponry. The missilery and UAVs are of particular importance because of the appearance of these weapons soon thereafter in the attacks on Israel. Here is Janes’ analysis:
Three ballistic missiles labeled as the Falaq were displayed that looked similar to a version of Iran’s Qiam liquid-fuel ballistic missile that has fins on its re-entry vehicle. The ballistic missiles that Ansar Allah refers to as the Burkan-2H and Zulfiqar have earlier been identified as Qiams that have been modified to extend their range….4
“What we have seen, clearly from the results of the ballistic missile attacks, that there have been Iranian markings on those missiles, that’s been demonstrated,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, who commanded U.S. Air Forces Central Command, stated five years ago. “To me, that connects the dots to Iran in terms of who’s providing those missiles and that capability.”5
The weapons fired at Israel are known in the defense world. They’ve been fired in recent years at Saudi and Emirates targets, refineries, airports, ships, and cities. The Houthis have always claimed “credit,” thus protecting their Iranian bosses from retaliation.
Iranian Weapons Materiel on Display at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling
In 2017, the then-Trump Administration displayed the Iran-Houthi weapons presentation at a military base in Washington. Parts of crashed or intercepted Houthi rockets and drones were shown.
The map presented by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) study, Beyond Riyadh: Houthi Cross-Border Aerial Warfare 2015-2022, does not include the recent Houthi missiles, drones, and rockets fired at Israel.8
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4 Yemeni rebels unveil new missiles in the largest parade to date (janes.com) https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/yemeni-rebels-unveil-new-missiles-in-largest-parade-to-date