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Yemeni rebels unveil ‘new' SAM

The Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (Houthis) announced a supposedly indigenous air-defence system called the Fater-1 on 24 August, but the only components it displayed were surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) that appeared to be identical to the 3M9 used with the 2K12 Kub/Kvadrat (SA-6 ‘Gainful’) system.

The Fater-1 missile appears to be identical to the 3M9 of the 2K12 system. (Ansar Allah)

The Fater-1 missile appears to be identical to the 3M9 of the 2K12 system. (Ansar Allah)

Developed by the Soviet Union in the 1960s, the 2K12 was in service with the Yemeni military before the current conflict began in 2015.

US Central Command has previously confirmed that an SA-6 was responsible for downing an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over Yemen on 6 June. “The altitude of the engagement indicated an improvement over previous Houthi capability, which we assess was enabled by Iranian assistance,” it said in a statement.

The basic 2K12 and improved 2K12M have maximum engagement altitudes of 7,000 m and 8,000 m, respectively, well below the MQ-9’s maximum service ceiling of 15,000 m.

During his 24 August presentation, Ansar Allah military spokesman Yahya Sari said the Fater-1 was also responsible for shooting down another MQ-9 over Dhamar governorate on 20 August. The US military confirmed the loss of the UAV but did not say what caused it.

Sari said the Fater-1 entered service in 2017 and damaged an aircraft for the first time on 8 January 2018. The Saudi-led coalition confirmed it lost an aircraft to an unspecified technical failure on that date. Images of the crash site showed wreckage from a Saudi Tornado. However, at the time Ansar Allah released infrared (IR) camera footage showing a missile exploding close to a Saudi F-15 that appeared to survive the engagement.

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