Expanding Conflagration: Iran vs Saudi Arabia in Yemen

30-Nov 2019: Houthis down a Saudi AH-64 Apache helicopter with an air-to-air Russian R-73 missile modified to employ as a SAM. It is unclear what version of the American-built attack helicopter was downed, but most likely a US-supplied AH-64A. Saudi crew KIA.

20-Aug 2019: Our sources have identified the source of the attack and from where it came. Because our site uses open source material we will not publish this information until it is released elsewhere. Suffice it to say; now we know why the Pentagon has not released from where the attack came - because to do so would embarrass the DC foreign policy establishment and its neoconservative and intelligence apparatus even more - especially since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Neither Washington or the United States has the capacity to shape and control the course of history. Aside from propping up the petrodollar, the United States and Washington's imperial army - would really do well to stay out of the Middle East.

14/18 -Sept 2019: Two Saudi Aramco plants were hit by drones and cruise-missiles, causing a large conflagration, and seriously impacting Saudi oil production. The US is blaming Iran. Details are still emerging. The Saudis have displayed both drones and what appear to be Quds-1 cruise missiles. American officials have provided no evidence of who launched the attack. So much for Saudi or US Patriot air defenses or radar networks, who never responded to the attack. It also forces one to ponder what a wider confrontation with countries like Iran would be like. The QUDS-1 and these other vehicles appear to have been developed in Yemen, with assistance from global arms technology markets. We have seen a lot of Soviet military technology proliferated out of former Eastern-block states especially from Ukraine, after the fall of the USSR. Nomenclature on the sides of the cruise missiles reads "MC-79050 and MC-79055."



This video appears on September 8, 2019, titled: "Martyr Al-Samad Exhibition for Yemeni Military Industries, inaugurating a new phase of Yemeni deterrence"

[Below] A still of an array of Yemani (Houthi) military air vehicles


09-Aug 2018: "At least 29 children have been killed and 30 wounded in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Yemen, the International Committee of the Red Cross says. The children were traveling on a bus that was hit at a market in Dahyan, in the northern province of Saada. The coalition, which is backing Yemen's government in a war with the Houthis, said its actions were "legitimate." It insists it never deliberately targets civilians, but human rights groups have accused it of bombing markets, schools, hospitals, and residential areas." Link

31-March 2018: Since 2017, scores of surface-to-surface missile have been fired into Saudi Arabia by Houthis forces. These have been "intercepted" by Saudi Patriot Missiles. However as we've known for years, the US-supplied Patriot Missile System is proving (yet again) not up to the task. We may write a new post the problem is so bad. Spectacular weapons system failures under actual combat conditions. See video of malfunction here. See link

04-Dec 2017: It appears that our old friend the US Patriot Missile System has again failed to intercept (as in 1991) a Scud missile 26 years later. A second Scud may have been intercepted.

04-Dec 2017: Ali Abdullah Saleh has been assianiated.

[Below] Two rather spectacular sequences showing the shootdown of an American MQ-9 drone. It may have been hit by an SA-9 or SA-13. SA-9 (9K31 Strela-1) appears very likely.


Saudi Arabia and the United States are pursuing the same stated policy in Yemen, that Iran, Iraq, and Russia are pursuing in Syria - no more regime change. This is to avoid what happened in Libya and Iraq, that being a failed-state become a jihadist hell hole. Suffice it to say the Saudi military has never had a stellar combat record, and by the mid-2016 the Saudi-US campaign in Yemen has effectively stagnated. As of 2017 there is massive starvation occurring among the Yemeni populous. Please see our 24-Aug 2016 update below.

RSAF Panavia Tornado IDS [above] and the F-15S Strike Eagle [below] are the most likely Saudi aircraft taking part in opening air attacks on Yemen. 
Developing story. Saudi Arabia's regional rivalry with Iran erupts into Saudi air attacks in Yemen. RSAF (Royal Saudi Air Force) attack is underway in Yemen; called 'Decisive Storm' . The first wave saw a massive strike on Houthi positions in and around Sana'a. The bombardment lasted longer than two hours with reports of  100 RSAF, 30 UAEAF, 10 QEAF and 8 RBAF aircraft taking part.
American assistance has occurred or is probable. It will be interesting to see how the Saudi military conducts operations - as it is not generally understood to have a proficient military, particularly on the ground. Iranian-backed Houthi Shi'ite militants took control of the capital Sanaa last year. This risks spiraling into a direct military confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia - and/or dragging in other more powerful state actors?

What's really going on here? Saudi (and American) concerns about Iranian ability to deny or choke off Saudi energy exports to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf – simultaneously. The list of participating nations may also support this observation? Being forced to support (read: the United States) an absolute monarchy with Wahhabism-Salafism as its official state religion - is not a particularly appealing prospect. Besides, the exact same policy Saudi-US are pursuing in Yemen, the Russians and Iranians are pursuing in Syria.

Video link

13-Oct, 2016: The US destroyer USS Nitze fires cruise missiles into Yemen after the USS Mason was reportedly attacked by rebels. Iran sends warships to the Yemeni theater.

24-Aug 2016: Yup....perhaps this video best sums up the Saudi military and its prospects for "victory" in Yemen:

09-Nov 2015: We haven’t had time to follow events in Yemen as closely. Suffice it to say the Saudi military has never had a stellar combat record. 

It indeed appears the Saudi-led (US supported) effort in Yemen has stalled and as Al-Qaeda in Yemen grows stronger.

22-May 2015: In addition to the Moroccan F-16 lost May 10, a Saudi AH-64 was brought down with pilots captured and aircraft recovered by Houthi fighters. We waited to publish the video (as it was unclear as to the origin of the images). It appears the Apache was forced to make an emergency landing.

20-May 2015: Misinformation/disinformation of a Yemen bound UNESCO humanitarian ship attacked by Saudi aircraft, as well as two Iranian warships escorting Yemen bound Iranian cargo ships. Information control is a tool of war. There is a lot of nonsense coming out regarding the conflict. We will sit back a watch what develops. Heavy air strikes in Yemen proper are continuing.

15-May 2015: Some confusion on the 'date taken' of some new satellite images that had appeared. The initial analysis on the disposition of the YAF still stands.

12-May 2015: A Moroccan F-16C block 52 was lost over Saada. Pilot fate unknown.

04-May 2015: Cluster munitions (CBU-105) have been employed by the Saudi Air Force near the border in late April (see bottom). Also reports of Pakistani drones now operating in Yemen. Overall there appears to be little lull in either fighting or air Saudi air activity.

29-Apr 2015: Saudi F-15C intercept Iranian civilian flight into Yemen. Several Iranian flights have attempted to land since the Saudi struck the airfield. We need to see where this heads. At least two Iranian warship are off the coast as well, most likely to collect SIGNIT (signal intelligence) traffic. First, you position your SIGNIT assets. Then you provoke a response by the other side while you vacuum up their operational (sensitive) EM transmissions. Smart.

[Above] Note the F-15s three external fuel tanks. All Western designed fighters must operate with external tanks. The Eagle is no exception. The F-15C is hopelessly short-legged without them.

21-Apr 2015: After 3 weeks Saudi Arabia announces "suspension" of air strikes in Yemen. We will wait and see what actually develops. In a related development (?) the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) Battle Group has redeployed from attacking ISIS the Persian Gulf - to the Gulf of Aden (off the coast of Yemen).

27-Mar 2015: The first grainy video of Saudi F-15S Strike Eagles over Yemen, Mount Dukhan in Sa'dah. That they are not striking at night - is interesting. If authentic then SAM and MANPAD threat in this area is minimal to zero.

Possibly more trouble. Egyptian navy has fired warning shots at Iranian warships near Bab el-Mandab Strait. Report is unconfirmed.

Misinformation and disinformation are tools of war. We will do our best to filter through and give the best facts we can. However, the information we find - may change. There is all manner of wild claims in and around Yemen right now. However, there are increasing reports of mounting civilian casualties and less-than-accurate bombing.

Belligerents:
RSAF ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ ORBAT (initial assessment) ACIG:
  • F-15S / No. 5 Flying Wing (Khamis Mushayt and King Khalid AB) including No. 6, No. 55, No. 92 Squadrons. 
  • Panavia Tornado IDS / No. 11 Flying Wing (Dhahran and King Abdul Aziz AB) has No. 7, No. 75, No. 83 Squadrons (IDS upgraded to roughly GR.Mk.4-class). 
  • Support aircraft / No. 6 Flying Wing (al-Kharj and Prince Sultan AB), E-3As from No. 18 Squadron, KE-3A from No. 23 Squadron, and SAAB 2000s from No. 66 Squadron. 
  • Operation may not necessitate heavy air tanker (read: in-flight refueling) use. 
Yemeni Air Force:
  • 9 Squadron with up to 24 MiG-29SM(T) less than a dozen were operational.
  • 26 Squadron (not confirmed) with up to 29 Su-22M-4Ks and Su-22UM-3Ks.
  • 121 Squadron with up to 11 F-5Es.
  • 128 Squadron with up 20 Mi-8/17/171s and Mi-25/35 helicopters. 
  • Bell 212s / 214s helicopters of the 3rd and 124th Squadron in storage.
  • Roughly 20 MiG-21s are grounded at Hodeida AB due to incidents and maintenance issues. 
Summary: Due to lack of spare parts the YAF has been effectively grounded since 2013. Except for its Su-22s and MiG-29s, the YAF has little offensive potential and is little threat to the Saudis. However, Yemeni SCUD-B class (surface-to-surface missile) could be. SCUD storage sites are operated by Republican Guard units and have been already been struck by Saudi-coalition aircraft.

[Below] Some nice shots of the Yemeni Air Force around 2010:
[Above] MiG-29SM(T)
[Above] MiG-21bis "2231"
[Above] MiG-29SM(T) carrying a Kh-31 air-to-surface missile. The Kh-31 is powered by kerosene.
[Above] MiG-29SM(T). Aircraft are designated 'SM' because they lack the SMT conformal fuel tank in the center spine - but have some SMT features. Yemeni MiG-29SM may have improved N-019ME radars and not the more modern Zhuk-ME. This remains unclear so far.
[Above] A nice shot of a Su-22M-4K. Another Sukhoi is seen under its sun shelter.
[Above] Northrop F-5E. The YAF is nominally in control of the air defense system SAMs. However, except for few SA-6 battalions covering Sana'a and Aden, most ground-control units deployed in major cities/towns are in poor condition. Most ZSU-23-4s AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery) are in control of the Yemeni Army.
The 5,000-strong YAF has evolved into a major source of opposition to the Hadi's regime. In 2011 YAF pilots began refusing orders to fly sorties against Houthis, against protesters, and on the Ilah-Party around Sana'a. Consequently, since that time - a number of YAF officers and airmen have been killed by “unknown gunmen.”

Most YAF combat aircraft have been destroyed. The YAF was already grounded by lack of spares and fuel. Let's see if on-the-ground post-strike photos appear soon. Whether these problems were due to political friction between the YAF and the Had'i government remain unclear - but not an unreasonable hypothesis? 

28-Mar 2015: RSAF loses an F-15S over the Gulf of Aden with pilots in the water. Aircrew rescued by USAF helicopter and the USN USS Sterett. Reportedly the F-15S had a "mechanical failure."

The RSAF SEAD operations (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) against the YAF (Yemeni Air Force): has been restricted to fixed SA-2 and SA-3 SAM sites and their radars. Location(s) were already known and so easier to find and hit than the mobile YAF SA-6. The exact disposition of Yemeni air defenses before the Saudi air campaign is not well understood. Some fixed sites may have been repaired after initial strikes

29-Mar 2015: [Below] Image of what is reportedly a weapon depot - hit by warplanes or naval gunfire.
[Below] Several images of knocked out Yemeni SA-2 and SA-3 SAM sites have appeared. Below is an SNR-75 'Fan Song' SA-2 radar.


[Below] The only real threat to Saudi are possibly Yemeni SCUD-B missiles (similar to this example in Bulgaria). How many SCUDs and launchers Yemen has, and their ability to employ them - is not well understood.
[Below] New video (thankfully without dramatic music or commentary) have appeared of Saudi coalition aircraft participating in 'Decisive Storm' including Sudanese Su-24M (ex Belarusian) 'Fencer' aircraft.

03-Apr 2015: Troops loyal to Hadi that launched an amphibious landing on the Crater District in southern Aden.

08-Apr 2015: Reports of the Saudis now using their Typhoon jets for the first time.

21-Apr 2015: The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) Battle Group has redeployed from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.

04-May 2015: 


10-May 2015: [Below] A Moroccan F-16C block 52 (SN 08-8008) like this one, was lost over Saada. Pilot fate unknown. 
Your thoughts?

Yemen Crisis

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Comments

  1. Of course everyone is on board when it only involves airstrikes but when it comes to sending in ground forces, they will be hestating.
    It will be interested moving forward. Will the Saudis committed some ground troops or send in weapons instead?
    --Xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes. This is uncharted waters for the Saudi ground forces. The last time I can recall the Saudi army faced an opponent that decided to shoot back was in the town of Khafji in 1991. They went driving in to retake Khafji like a scene from ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ - and then found themselves in headlong retreat. We’ll see what happens here in Yemen. - The Boresight

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  3. I found a Russian site which sorts through reports of destroyed equipment in Yemen. Indeed it's mostly armoured vehicle, but it also mentions aircraft's destroyed. For both sides of the conflict. http://lostarmour.info/yemen/

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think your update should be dated 20Sept19.
    y

    ReplyDelete

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