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Suspected Iranian loitering SAM powered by Dutch minijet

The surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) found by the US Navy on two dhows smuggling weapons to Yemen are powered by small gas turbine engines made by the company AMT Netherlands, according to a recently released report by the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen.

One of the 358 SAMs that was recovered.  (US Department of Justice)

One of the 358 SAMs that was recovered. (US Department of Justice)

The previously undocumented missiles were found along with other weapons and components – many of them Iranian-made – on two dhows that were stopped in the Gulf of Aden in November 2019 and February 2020. Named the 358 SAM by the US military, they are comparatively slow, but long-range weapons that appear to be designed to loiter until they detect an aircraft.

The panel of experts said there is no evidence the type has been used by the Iranian-backed Yemeni group Ansar Allah (the Houthis).

AMT Netherlands makes small jet engines for remotely controlled aircraft, gliders, and research purposes. The five recovered 358 SAMs were fitted with the company’s Titan engine, which weighs 3.6 kg, can generate 393 N of thrust, and costs around EUR10,000 (USD12,000).

The report said the engines were exported in two shipments in 2017 and 2019 to companies in Hong Kong, with the export licence issued by the Netherlands stating they could not be re-exported. Beijing told the panel of experts that the company whose name was used to import the engines ceased to exist in 2014.

The 358 SAMs also included MTi-100 inertial sensor modules made by Xsens Technologies, also a Dutch company, that were exported to another company in China in 2015–16.

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