CONTENT PREVIEW
Country Risk

Saudi coalition says Iran smuggling SAMs to Yemen

27 March 2018

Key Points

  • Saudi Arabia has displayed an Iranian Sayyad-2 SAM it says was destined for Yemen’s rebels
  • It is unclear if Sayyad-2s are responsible for the recent improvement in rebel air defence

Iran is smuggling Sayyad-2 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) to Yemen’s Ansar Allah (Houthis) rebel group, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition announced during a 26 March briefing.

Col Maliki stands in front of the captured Sayyad-2C during his 26 March presentation. (Al-Arabiya)Col Maliki stands in front of the captured Sayyad-2C during his 26 March presentation. (Al-Arabiya)

As part of a presentation of evidence of Iranian weapons turning up in Yemen, Colonel Turki al-Maliki displayed a missile labelled as a Sayyad-2C that was part of consignment that was intercepted in an intelligence operation before it could reach the rebels. It was missing its nose and fins.

The Sayyad-2 was unveiled in November 2013 and is used with Iran’s new Talash air defence system. The missile appears to be a ground-launched derivative of the RIM-66 (SM-1) naval SAM that is in service with the Iranian navy, but not its Saudi counterpart.

Col Maliki also displayed images that apparently showed a manual and components made by Rizmoj Sanat, an Iranian company that produces radars and other aircraft tracking systems, that were seized in the same consignment.

He did not say if Sayyad-2s had been used in Yemen, but previously stated that a Saudi F-15 multirole fighter was hit by a SAM, but survived, while flying over Sadah airport in northern Yemen on 21 March. He said the missile used in the engagement was not previously in Yemen’s air defence inventory.

The video that Ansar Allah released to claim the attack showed an R-27T medium-range air-to-air missile being fired from a ground launcher, indicating the group has turned missiles delivered for Yemen’s MiG-29 fighters into SAMs. The missile appeared to hit an aircraft that began to trail smoke, but continued on its course.

A slide from Col Maliki’s briefing shows a comparison of the launcher for Iran’s Sayyad-2 SAM (left) with a Badr-1 launcher seen in coalition aerial surveillance imagery. (Al-Arabiya)A slide from Col Maliki’s briefing shows a comparison of the launcher for Iran’s Sayyad-2 SAM (left) with a Badr-1 launcher seen in coalition aerial surveillance imagery. (Al-Arabiya)

Col Maliki identified Ansar Allah’s Badr-1 system as the launcher for the Sayyad-2 and showed aerial surveillance footage of one being destroyed near Sanaa’s airport on an unspecified date.

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