US Success Includes Destroying Houthi Drones

( – The US Navy is continuing the battle against Yemen’s Houthi terror group in the Red Sea. On February 1, intensive combat operations saw multiple strikes launched against the Iran-backed militia while US warships defended themselves and merchant shipping against missile and drone attacks.

Since last November the Houthi rebels, who control most of western Yemen, have launched at least 36 attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. On January 11, US and British aircraft hit Houthi radar and missile sites in an attempt to stop the attacks. When the Houthis kept shooting more strikes were launched on January 22. So far, however, it hasn’t deterred the group, which is backed by Iran’s Islamic regime. US and British destroyers in the region have shot down dozens of missiles aimed at cargo ships and themselves, and the attacks keep coming.

Around 1:30 a.m. local time on February 1, the US Navy launched more airstrikes, hitting a drone control station, and shooting down ten suicide drones heading for American warships. Hours later another drone was destroyed, then a “waterborne drone” — a remotely controlled speedboat loaded with explosives. An inbound ballistic missile and three more Iranian suicide drones were also destroyed during the busy day.

Worryingly, the destroyer USS Gravely shot down one inbound drone with her Phalanx CIWS system, which has an effective range of less than a mile and can only intercept weapons in the last few seconds of their flight. Previous attacks have been destroyed with the destroyers’ Standard and ESSM missiles, at ranges of eight miles or more.

Defense analyst Tom Shugart warns that these attacks are becoming dangerous; referencing the destroyer USS Carney, which has shot down 37 drones so far, he asked “What happens when the Carney’s score reads 37-1?” Arleigh Burke-class destroyers only have 96 missile launch cells, and they can’t be reloaded at sea. If the Houthis fire enough weapons, eventually one will get through — unless the terror group can be forced to see sense first.

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