Houthi drones more risky than Saudis admit: Wall Street Journal

New York (Debriefer)
2019-05-04 | Since 4 Year

Drone debris

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The Wall Street Journal has highlighted the increasing risk posed by Yemen's Houthi unmanned aerial vehicles(UAH) on the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates that are leading a military coalition in Yemen since 26 March 2015, in support of forces loyal to President Hadi to retake areas controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthis.

Houthi UAH attacks on rivals are more accurate and farer than official admitted by coalition and United States, WSJ reported Thursday.

Yemen has been racked by an armed conflict that broke out after the Iranian-backed Houthis had ousted the internationally recognized government late in 2014.The conflict escalated after a Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in the country in March 2015.

Last July, Houthi UAVs targeted Aramco-owned refinery near to Riyadh, an executive official at the company and GCC official told WSJ. Despite the limited material damages, the Saudi government officially denied the attack.

In the same month, another drone infringed Emirati skies andstroke Dubai international airport, leaving damages on a truck and delayed flights, according to informed sources.

The UAE government also denied reports on the attack and the US supported this account, according to US former officials.

Houthi drones downed by Saudi forces exceeded 140 planes, as estimated by officials in the Kingdom.

Houthis have found drones an alternative to ballistic missiles, and theyhave becomewithin short period one of the most skilled groups in using this weapon, said the WSJ.

US officials are increasingly concerned about the risk posed by Houthi drones on commercial navigation and movement of US warships in the region, the paper added.

The US allies in the Middle East are aware of the Houthi destabilizing impact on situation in Yemen and neighboring countries, but many don't take the matter as seriously as required, the WSJ quoted senior official at Trump's administration as saying.

A Pentagon official has held Iran responsible for Houthi achievements, while another official has said the US intelligence concluded that Houthi UAV program bears local brand and doesn't need much of foreign support.

While US and UN officials see that Houthi drones are locally-made, arms experts say the group need to smuggle advanced steering systems and strong mini machines from abroad.

UN experts have found inside Houthi drones US, Chinese, German and Japanese-made machines, the WSJ added.

The Houthi group has swiftly shifted from using small drones into developing a larger version of a "UAV-X" able to fly more than 1,400 km, making Saudi and Emirati capitals within its fire range.

This plane was used first in assassinating a coalition officiallast January, when Houthis attacked a military parade in Yemen's Anad Base, claiming the lives of six people, including high-rank officer.

Following the attack, the Arab coalition launched campaign against UAV sites in Yemen, as Houthis intensified drone attacks.

In the few last weeks, Saudi air defense has downed at least 17 drones over Yemeni and Saudi skies, according to Saudi officials.

Saudis and Emiratis have tangibly invested in producing anti-UAV technology, a US official told the WSJ, but the relativelyeasyproduction of these weapons makes it difficult to combat them.

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