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US Navy destroys USV & UAV in Red Sea near Yemen coast.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by the US DoD on March 20, 2024, the US Navy engaged and destroyed an unmanned aerial vehicle and an unmanned surface vessel off the coast of Yemen. These threats, launched from areas controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi militants, were identified as posing an imminent risk to both merchant and U.S. Navy ships in the region.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Qasef-1 Iranian Reconnaissance and Loitering Munition Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in Iran. (Picture source: ODIN)

The Houthi rebels in Yemen have employed a range of unmanned systems in their operations, heavily influenced or directly provided by Iranian technology. Their arsenal spans from aerial drones to innovative underwater drones.

Aerial Drones

The Houthis have utilized several types of aerial drones, notably the Qasef-1, alongside its successors, the Qasef-2K and Sammad 3. These drones are slow, propeller-driven, and have a long range, making them difficult to detect by radar due to their small size and low flight paths.

Designed for both surveillance and attack missions, these drones can carry explosives for direct assaults. Manufactured from materials like titanium and carbon fiber, these drones are lightweight yet durable. The Quds-1 missile is another component of their arsenal, with parts that have been identified as sourced from Iran, highlighting the external support provided to the Houthis​​.

Underwater Drones

The Houthis have also begun employing uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUVs) in the Red Sea. This represents a novel threat vector, capable of stealthily approaching and attacking naval or commercial vessels. The discovery of components for these UUVs in shipments from Iran suggests external backing for this capability.

These UUVs are akin to torpedoes but are designed for one-way attacks against stationary targets, suggesting a strategic use against ships docked or at anchor. With a propulsion system similar to traditional torpedoes, these underwater drones might be equipped with surveillance tools for precise targeting​​.

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