Air Platforms

Saudi-led coalition identifies Yemeni attack UAV

22 January 2019

A UAV identified as an Iranian Shahed-123 was unveiled as a new addition to the Iranian Materiel Display at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling on 26 November 2018. CNN reported that the UAV was launched from Iran’s Zabol airfield and recovered by US-led coalition forces after it crashed in Afghanistan in October 2016. Source: Lisa Ferdinando / Defense Media Activity

The Saudi-led coalition has revealed the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that it said was involved in an attempted attack on a Yemeni government delegation heading for a ceasefire meeting on 11 January.

Yemeni Minister of Information Moammar al-Iryani announced on 13 January that Ansar Allah, the Yemeni rebel group popularly known as the Houthis, tried to attack the delegation headed by Major General Sakhir Saghair bin Aziz before it attended a meeting of the Redeployment Co-ordination Committee (RCC) that is facilitating a limited ceasefire agreed in Stockholm in December 2018.

Iryani indicated that the UAV was a 'kamikaze drone' rather than one that would have launched weapons, saying, "The Houthi plane, which was manufactured in Iran and loaded with highly explosive materials, was intercepted and detonated prior to its arrival at the residence of the government team."

In a briefing held in Riyadh on 19 January, Joint Forces Command spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki displayed a slide that included a photograph of the UAV used in the "attempt by the Iran-backed Houthi coup militia to target representatives of the legitimate government in the RCC". The slide named the aircraft as a 'Shahed' and stated it has a length of 284 cm and wingspan of 453 cm, but did not describe how it was armed.

The UAV looked similar to the type the US has identified as the Iranian-made Shahed-123, which was unveiled as a new addition to its Iranian Materiel Display at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, DC, in November 2018.

The US State Department's Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, told journalists that the Shahed-123 was recovered after it crashed in Afghanistan and that components for the type had also been interdicted in Yemen in early 2018.

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