Dubai - In Yemen, the high-pitched whine of drones has been a part of life for over 15 years, ever since the first US drone strike here targeting Al Qaida in 2002. But now, Iran-backed Al Houthi militia is increasingly deploy drones in Yemen’s brutal civil war.
Here are some key details about Al Houthis’ drones:
THE IRAN LINK
A 2018 report by a United Nations panel of experts on Yemen looked particularly at Al Houthis’ Qatef-1 drone.
The report said that although the militia media announced Al Houthis had manufactured the drone, “in reality they are assembled from components supplied by an outside source and shipped into Yemen.”
The Qatef, or “Striker,” it added, “is virtually identical in design, dimensions and capability to that of the Ababil-T, manufactured by the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries.”
The Ababil-T can deliver up to a 45kg warhead up to 150km away.
A research group called Conflict Armament Research, with the permission of the UAE’s elite Presidential Guard, also examined seized drones used by Al Houthis and their allies to crash into Patriot missile batteries in Saudi Arabia.
The research group similarly said those drones share “near-identical design and construction characteristics” of Iranian drones.
THE DRONE BOAT
Saudi-led coalition forces last year also showed journalists an Al Houthi “drone boat” filled with explosives that had failed to detonate.
The officials also shared black-and-white images they said came from the “drone boat.” They said the pictures and associated data from the boat’s computer showed Iranians building components for its guidance system in eastern Tehran, with a hat in the background of one picture bearing the symbol of Iran’s hard-line paramilitary Revolutionary Guard forces.
They said those involved in building the components probably believed it would be destroyed in the blast, so they didn’t wipe the computer’s hard drive