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Yemeni rebels step up ‘flying bomb’ attacks

19 April 2018
The specification sheet for the Qasef-1 as released in March 2017. Source: Al-Masirah TV

The Saudi-led coalition has confirmed that the Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (Houthis) has used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) carrying explosives in at least three attempted attacks in a week.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces released a statement on 18 April via the WAM news agency saying that one of its air defence units had shot down a Qasef-1 UAV that the rebels launched at “strategic positions” of the coalition-backed Yemeni forces on Yemen’s Red Sea coast.

“Upon examining the aircraft, military defence teams discovered a large quantity of explosive materials,” it said.

Ansar Allah said it carried out an attack on the Patriot air defence battery that the UAE had deployed to the Red Sea port of Al-Mukha.

Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki announced on 11 April that Saudi air defences had shot down two rebel “drones” earlier that day. One targeted Abha International Airport in Asir province, the other an unspecified location in Jizan province.

Imagery emerged on social media showing what appeared to be the remnants of a Qasef-1 that crashed close to the civilian terminal building at Abha airport. The fragmentation damage visible on the surface of the aircraft parking apron indicated that its warhead detonated before it hit the ground.

Ansar Allah unveiled the Qasef-1 in March 2017, saying it had a range of 150 km and could be used to carry out reconnaissance and surveillance, or armed with a 30 kg warhead.

Powered by a small petrol engine driving a pusher propeller, the UAV appeared to be identical to Iran’s Ababil-2. The Israeli military has identified a similar type that was used by the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hizbullah in August 2006 as the Ababil-T.

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