Riyadh was struck in a Houthi drone attack?

"On August 26, Ansar Allah (the Houthis) for the first time used a squadron of Sammad-3 (Invincible-3) combat drones to strike an “important military target” in Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh.

A spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, said that the drones struck the designated target with great precision, reiterating that the strikes were in response to the continued Saudi-led alliance’s crimes and aggression against Yemen, and its blockade of the war-torn Arab country.'  SF


When I was DATT in Yemen long ago the North Yemeni Army was beginning to develop skill in using SCUD missiles provided by the USSR.  In those days (early 80s) the Soviets supplied both North and South Yemen.  We and the Saudis restricted our supply activities to Salih's North Yemen.  Thie Soviet policy was odd because there was a flaming proxy war going on between the two Yemens.

Now, the Ansarallah/Salih Loyalists have a wide array of ballistic missiles and UAVs.  Are these manufactured in Iran as the US government claims?  IMO components of them may be and then these are assembled in Houthi/Salih loyalist controlled parts of Yemen.  If a lot of this materiel is wholly Iranian made why does it not show up somewhere else in the hands of other Iranian "allies?"  And, how does it get to Yemen?  By ship?

I have been unable to find a single document that describes all the different types of missiles,UAVs, but one of you will do that.

This particular bird does not look like a "throw away."  What does it do? Does it fly up to Riyadh, fire a missile at a target and then fly home to the Yemeni mountains?  What does it do?  pl


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35 Responses to Riyadh was struck in a Houthi drone attack?

  1. John Minehan says:

    Even back in the Iran-Iraq War, this “War of the Cities” idea was a big part of things.
    There was a guy at DIA around the time of the Gulf War in 1990 (Mike Holthis? Something like that?) who used to say the Middle Eastern ideal of war was Horse Archers and attacks from a distance. That’s simplistic, given the importance of the Cataphract in Classical Iran and the fact that aerial attacks against civilian targets have been part of “Total War” since WWI. But it does seem to be a recurring theme.
    Maybe the use of SSMs and UAVs comes out of the Israeli Air Force destroying the Arab Air Forces on the ground before the Arabs could do it to them in the Six Day War back in 1967?

  2. turcopolier says:

    John Minehan
    Never heard of him. Did cataphracti use stirrups?

  3. walrus says:

    I’m no expert but I think it could be throwaway – a poor mans Tomahawk. The bulbous bit over the center could be a fibreglass cover over the electronics. The body itself looks like aluminium or possibly fibreglass. There is a small piston engine at one end and you would put explosives of similar weight in the nose and fuel in the middle. That way you shouldn’t get centre of gravity shifting much as the fuel is used. The electronics are a model aircraft autopilot and. servos, a GPS and a simple flight control computer.
    It all sounds simple, but my guess is that “somebody” not the houthis, crashed hundreds of prototypes getting the wing and other aerodynamics right and perfecting a rail/rocket launch system.

  4. turcopolier says:

    So, how do they get to Yemen? It is a hell of a long way from Yemen (any part) to Riyadh or Shaibah. pl

  5. walrus says:

    How do they get to yemen? No idea. Probably the same way as ammo? The electronics and motor are small. If they had a mold for the wings and body they could probably glass them up in country. Human ingenuity knows no bounds.

  6. walrus says:

    The thing must be a purely blast weapon, largely symbolic I would have thought, assuming the Saudis are as stoic as Londerners were during the blitz.

  7. turcopolier says:

    The Saudis are in no way “stoic.” The Iraqis were truly stoic under SCUD fire during the “War of the Cities.” I was there to watch it. Yes, this version is probably a one way thing which cannot be accurate. I would bet that none of this system is Iranian. The parts are available on the international market and the body can be built locally. The Saudis are cowards. this will frighten them.

  8. turcopolier says:

    It is a long, long way from Iran to Yemen. Delivery of components by air is impossible. Ship is the answer and there is a naval blockade. i don’t know how they get their ground conventional ammunition. A lot of it must be captured and Yemen was one giant ammo stockpile when I was there. Everyone was armed with the same weapons they have now. they must be building these UAVs themselves.

  9. walrus says:

    Suspicious shipments of lawnmowers and model aircraft?

  10. EEngineer says:

    Weedwacker/leafblower engine. Add a bit of nitro-methane to boost the power but not enough to melt it before it gets there. All of it’s stone age tech except the CPU. It’s amazing how much CPU HP you can get for less than $100 that takes up the space of a deck of cards and a battery that’s no bigger. More than on the original cruise missiles and the computer on those took up nearly half the internal volume…

  11. anon says:

    They fell out the back of a plane.

  12. Nuff Sed says:

    Houthi engineers are flown in to Tehran to receive training on how to build the bodies and incorporate the electronics, just as their medics were flown in during the early part of the war to receive training as trauma surgeons. The sophisticated electronics are smuggled in by small boat at night from Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea.

  13. Nuff Sed says:

    It is amazing how little time is actually required for a medic to be able to sufficiently matriculate as a surgeon to be able to start work and get the rest of his expertise with on the job experience. Not 12 years of schooling and 12 years of medical school; just three months working alongside a qualified and experienced surgeon. Thanks for nothing, AMA.

  14. John Minehan says:

    They were heavy cavalry, usually in scale armor, used by the various Iranian dynasties and by others, notably the Sarmatians and the late Romans).
    Later ones did use stirrups.

  15. John Minehan says:

    Yemen used to be a veritable Wal-Mart for small arms and ammo; which helped keep things going in Somalia for about 20 years.
    Blockade running and smuggling is a high art on the Red Sea. Dhows, even large ones, will go places you would not expect and carry more than you might imagine.

  16. turcopolier says:

    John Minehan
    When I was DATT there in the 80s the Yemen Army took me to visit one of their arms depots in a deep cave under a mountain. It was full of of materiel ranging in age from Soviet to Ottoman. My guide said that if I saw something I liked I should just take it.

  17. turcopolier says:

    Nuff Sed
    Very plausible. Insider information?

  18. turcopolier says:

    Nuff Sed
    A similar thing is true of the trainng of US Army Special Forces medics.

  19. John Minehan says:

    Yeah, it seems to have continued in that direction.
    Around 2004, many businesses had delivery vans, company cars and . . . the “DShK truck for security.
    Interesting place . . . .

  20. Nuff Sed says:

    Not really. There just happened to be someone on a TV show here in sunny Tehran talking about it last night. He didn’t mention the specific countries, but those are the ones which stand to reason.

  21. turcopolier says:

    Nuff Sed
    Thanks. Very helpful. Please pass to us anything like that from public media. Don’t get in trouble.

  22. oldman22 says:

    Houthi are compared to T E Lawrence, their use of drones discussed. But the most significant contribution of this article is their governance:
    The Houthi forces are small and highly mobile, and this, combined with Yemen’s mountainous terrain, provides them with force security. Most critically, they and their allies have respected the local populace by providing—at least relative to southern Yemen—high levels of security and predictability.
    Sana’a, the capital of Yemen and a city of at least five million, is relatively crime- and al-Qaeda-free, and some basic public services continue to be provided despite a four-year-long blockade, ongoing aerial bombardment, and no electricity. Sana’a is, by necessity, the first capital city to be almost entirely dependent on solar power.
    Are Yemen’s Houthis the Future of War?
    Taking a page from T.E. Lawrence and excelling at primitive drone technology, these ‘ragtag’ insurgents are besting major powers in Yemen.
    By Michael Horton • August 26, 2019

  23. Philippe Truze says:

    In early 80’s, in Peshawar, I worked (part time) for a French NGO** which trained Afghan paramedics. As far as surgery was concern, the goal of the n-weeks training was very simple : to allow the wounded guy to survive 4 – 6 days, allowing his fellow mujaheddins to put him on a truck to rush (sic) to Peshawar.. And it was working (adding to the exceptional physical resistance of Afghans, which always stunned me..)
    ** : actually there was 2 French such training centers : MTA and MRCA.

  24. Christian J Chuba says:

    I was thinking along the same lines but just the reverse. Iranian engineers go to Yemen, examine what type of facilities they have for manufacturing and then do the R&D work so that the Yemenis can then do the production themselves. The Houthis do control the most populated areas of Yemen with the largest cities, they must have some production capability.
    This way you only have to smuggle a few people in and out of the country. I would think that this is a lot easier then trying to import material in any significant quantity. Maybe we are seeing the drones / new missiles now because the R&D and production line development took 3 yrs.

  25. JP Billen says:

    Also impressive are the Houthi homemade long range rockets, with which they have hit Saudi Arabia. They started in 2015 by modifying their old SA-2 SAMs to SSMs and used them to attack Saudi targets. Also modified their SCUDs.
    Lately they have the Badr-1, called an SRBM by some analysts. It is produced locally from steel tubing probably from the oil industry. And they make their own rocket fuel. When they ran out of working SA-2s they altered the SA-2 launch rails in order launch Badr. Waste not want not, as Grandma would have said.
    The Badr-1P is guided and reportedly has accuracy of three meters. They used it on a Sudanese/Saudi military camp at Boqa last October, and perhaps on a few other sites in Saudi Jizan since then.
    The latest guided version, the Badr-F, has a proximity-fused air burst 20 meters above the target with a reported flak radius of 350 meters.

  26. John Minehan says:

    Per Fall, It seems that successful insurgencies become the Gov’t and, per Joshua Cooper Ramo, may win because they provide these services better than the old gov’t. (https://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/books/review/Rosen-t.html?mtrref=www.google.com&gwh=DD33E939DE2F57E23F3B8173EC6A7565&gwt=pay&assetType=REGIWALL).
    Let’s see what happens . . . .

  27. turcopolier says:

    Bernard Fall was chief instructor at the Special Warfare School when I was trained there in 1964. He lectured in the Counterinsurgency Staff Officer Course that I attended in addition to the Special Forces Officer qualification course that I survived. I remember Fall writing on a blackboard that Counterinsurgency = Political Reform + Economic Development + Counterguerilla Operations. He said “that is how you do it. Unfotunately your government will probably just want to fight the guerrillas.” As for the other guy, I am weary of people who re-invent the wheel.

  28. turcopolier says:

    The advent of stirrups coming down the steppe gradient made a tremendous difference in the effectiveness of heavy cavalry as a battlefield shock weapon system. With stirrups one could stand in them and put the whole weight of the horse and rider behind the point of the lance. Without that heavy cavalry was not a decisive battlefield weapon. Light cavalry and its varied missions is a different subject.

  29. JP Billen says:

    Fall’s “political reform, economic development, & counterguerilla ops” sounds much like what Magsaysay did in the Philippines in the early 50s.
    Although as SecDef Magsaysay could not do political reform. But he purged the Army of profiteering officers and NCOs and also pigeon-holed the lazy and incapable ones. Plus he treated the thugs hired by the landlords the same way he treated the Huks, and that put a stop to the excesses committed by the Constabulary.
    Couldn’t do much for economic development either as SecDef. But he did enact major land reform policies when he became Prez. And even before that as SecDef he had the Army send food and medical teams and other aid to villages in Huk controlled zones
    As for counterguerilla ops, the plan he used was based on his experience during WW2 as a guerilla in western Luzon. He pushed Army brass into launching offensives instead of the previous static defense. It was his policy of bird-dogging the Huks to their the mountain hideouts with company and battalion sized Combat Teams that finally broke the back of the rebellion.

  30. johnf says:

    Excellent article. And the linked article on Sanaa having the largest percentage of electricity generated by solar panels of any capital on earth.

  31. John Minehan says:

    The “couched lance.”

  32. John Minehan says:

    Fall was an interesting guy from what I’ve read. He was part of the French Resistance as a young man then joined the French Army after WWII. I wonder how many other academics have been both insurgents and part of (more than one) army fighting them.
    Good guy to have had as an instructor.

  33. John Minehan says:

    You don’t hear as much as you should about Maysaysay.
    Like Fall, he was another Counter insurgent who had been an insurgent, fighting the Japanese.

  34. John Minehan says:

    It appears the stirrup hit that area in very late classical times (7th Century).

  35. PavewayIV says:

    Oryx Blog – https://spioenkop.blogspot.com/2019/09/houthi-drone-and-missile-handbook.html
    Houthi Drone and Missile Handbook
    Oryx September 06, 2019
    …This list only includes equipment confirmed to be in service with Houthi militants in Yemen or interdicted on the way to Yemen. The goal of this list is to comprehensively catalogue the current inventory of drones, rockets and missiles of the Houthi militants as well as clarify their origin…

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