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US Admits Houthis Can Hit Ships in Mediterranean as Militia Swats Down Another Reaper

© Photo : Courtesy of Ansar Allah Media officeHouthi naval missiles on parade in Sanaa, September 2023.
Houthi naval missiles on parade in Sanaa, September 2023. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.05.2024
What they lack in naval and aerial capabilities the Houthis certainly make up for in gumption. For more than six months, the Yemeni militia has been wreaking havoc on Israeli, US and UK-linked commercial shipping in the Red and Arabian Seas, targeting merchant vessels and warships alike with an arsenal of inexpensive drones and missiles.
Yemen’s Ansar Allah (Houthi) militia has the capability to target vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, a senior Pentagon official has confirmed.
“The Houthis have an advanced array of weaponry,” the senior defense official told reporters in a briefing this week, asking for anonymity to discuss sensitive subject matter. “They have weapons that could reach the Mediterranean. It definitely is of concern that they have that capability,” the official said.
The official qualified their remarks, saying the US has no evidence of the Houthis actually attempting an attack in the Mediterranean – which is situated 2,000 km or more from militia-controlled areas of northwest Yemen, to date.
Nonetheless, the official suggested that “there’s really no precedent for the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles, the way they are doing it. It’s a kind of maritime terrorism that the entire world has an interest in seeing brought to a close.”
The Pentagon’s assessment stands in stark contrast with what the Houthis themselves are saying, and with what regional countries are doing, amid the militia’s ongoing partial maritime blockade – which Ansar Allah says is its way of showing solidarity with Palestinians amid Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
Social media footage shows what appears to be another US Reaper drone downed by the Houthis over Yemen. - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.05.2024
Houthis Take Down Another US Reaper Drone, Reiterate Threat to Target Ships in Mediterranean
Traditional US allies in the Gulf region, once involved in a large-scale, years-long war against the Houthis themselves, have shied away from committing themselves against the militia this time around, with regional power player Saudi Arabia restricting airspace to US warplanes seeking bases from which to attack targets inside Yemen, and instead looking for a diplomatic end to their conflict with the Houthis.
The Houthis have spent weeks warning about their readiness to expand their blockade of the Red and Arabian Seas to the Mediterranean to target any and all Israel-bound ships, but have yet to follow through with the threat.
The Yemeni militia is known to have access to an array of mostly Soviet-era ballistic, anti-ship and air defense missiles, which they have upgraded and used to effect to target everything from merchant ships and warships to enemy air targets. The longest-range weapons include the Burkan (lit. ‘Volcano’) series of long-range ballistic missiles (estimated maximum range 1,200 km+) and the Tufan (lit. ‘Flood’ or ‘Storm’) with an estimated range of up to 1,950 km.
On top of that are the Houthis’ long-range strike drones, including the Samad – which Western observers estimate have a range of up to 1,800 km.
Armed Yemeni men step over a US and an Israeli flag painted on the asphalt in the Houthi-run capital Sanaa, during a march in support of the Palestinians amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, on February 29, 2024.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.05.2024
Houthis Have 'Defeated' American Goliath - UK Media

Houthis Don’t Fear the Reaper

The Houthis also have a well-known penchant for flouting the power of larger, wealthier and more technically sophisticated adversaries, announcing Tuesday that they had shot down another $32 million MQ-9 reaper drone over Yemen’s air space. The incident is second time in less than a week, and at least the fifth time since the Red Sea escalation last fault, that the militia has destroyed the advanced piece of US UAV hardware.
“The Air Defense Forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces shot down an American unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-9 Reaper while it was carrying out hostile missions in the airspace of Al Bayda Governorate,” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sare’e said in a statement. “The [UAV] was targeted with a locally made surface-to-air missile,” he added.
Ships are seen at Saleef port in the western Red Sea Hodeida province - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.05.2024
Vessel Damaged in Attack Off Yemeni Coast - Statement
“The Yemeni Armed Forces continue to develop their defense capabilities in order to confront the American-British aggression against our country and continue to carry out their military operations in triumphing for the oppressed Palestinian people until the siege is lifted and the aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is ceased,” the spokesman said.
The US military acknowledged reports on the Reaper’s destruction, but didn’t immediately comment on the veracity of the Houthis’ claims.
The Houthis consequently published footage showing a Reaper drone in the crosshairs of an infrared camera, as well as footage of an air defense missile being launched in the drone’s direction in the dead of night, followed by the UAV's destruction in a massive fireball.
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