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27 August 2019


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John Minehan

Even back in the Iran-Iraq War, this "War of the Cities" idea was a big part of things.

There was a guy at DIA around the time of the Gulf War in 1990 (Mike Holthis? Something like that?) who used to say the Middle Eastern ideal of war was Horse Archers and attacks from a distance. That's simplistic, given the importance of the Cataphract in Classical Iran and the fact that aerial attacks against civilian targets have been part of "Total War" since WWI. But it does seem to be a recurring theme.

Maybe the use of SSMs and UAVs comes out of the Israeli Air Force destroying the Arab Air Forces on the ground before the Arabs could do it to them in the Six Day War back in 1967?


John Minehan

Never heard of him. Did cataphracti use stirrups?


I’m no expert but I think it could be throwaway - a poor mans Tomahawk. The bulbous bit over the center could be a fibreglass cover over the electronics. The body itself looks like aluminium or possibly fibreglass. There is a small piston engine at one end and you would put explosives of similar weight in the nose and fuel in the middle. That way you shouldn’t get centre of gravity shifting much as the fuel is used. The electronics are a model aircraft autopilot and. servos, a GPS and a simple flight control computer.

It all sounds simple, but my guess is that “somebody” not the houthis, crashed hundreds of prototypes getting the wing and other aerodynamics right and perfecting a rail/rocket launch system.



So, how do they get to Yemen? It is a hell of a long way from Yemen (any part) to Riyadh or Shaibah. pl


How do they get to yemen? No idea. Probably the same way as ammo? The electronics and motor are small. If they had a mold for the wings and body they could probably glass them up in country. Human ingenuity knows no bounds.


The thing must be a purely blast weapon, largely symbolic I would have thought, assuming the Saudis are as stoic as Londerners were during the blitz.



The Saudis are in no way "stoic." The Iraqis were truly stoic under SCUD fire during the "War of the Cities." I was there to watch it. Yes, this version is probably a one way thing which cannot be accurate. I would bet that none of this system is Iranian. The parts are available on the international market and the body can be built locally. The Saudis are cowards. this will frighten them.



It is a long, long way from Iran to Yemen. Delivery of components by air is impossible. Ship is the answer and there is a naval blockade. i don't know how they get their ground conventional ammunition. A lot of it must be captured and Yemen was one giant ammo stockpile when I was there. Everyone was armed with the same weapons they have now. they must be building these UAVs themselves.


Suspicious shipments of lawnmowers and model aircraft?


Weedwacker/leafblower engine. Add a bit of nitro-methane to boost the power but not enough to melt it before it gets there. All of it's stone age tech except the CPU. It's amazing how much CPU HP you can get for less than $100 that takes up the space of a deck of cards and a battery that's no bigger. More than on the original cruise missiles and the computer on those took up nearly half the internal volume...


They fell out the back of a plane.

Nuff Sed

Houthi engineers are flown in to Tehran to receive training on how to build the bodies and incorporate the electronics, just as their medics were flown in during the early part of the war to receive training as trauma surgeons. The sophisticated electronics are smuggled in by small boat at night from Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea.

Nuff Sed

It is amazing how little time is actually required for a medic to be able to sufficiently matriculate as a surgeon to be able to start work and get the rest of his expertise with on the job experience. Not 12 years of schooling and 12 years of medical school; just three months working alongside a qualified and experienced surgeon. Thanks for nothing, AMA.

John Minehan

They were heavy cavalry, usually in scale armor, used by the various Iranian dynasties and by others, notably the Sarmatians and the late Romans).

Later ones did use stirrups.

John Minehan

Yemen used to be a veritable Wal-Mart for small arms and ammo; which helped keep things going in Somalia for about 20 years.

Blockade running and smuggling is a high art on the Red Sea. Dhows, even large ones, will go places you would not expect and carry more than you might imagine.


John Minehan

When I was DATT there in the 80s the Yemen Army took me to visit one of their arms depots in a deep cave under a mountain. It was full of of materiel ranging in age from Soviet to Ottoman. My guide said that if I saw something I liked I should just take it.


Nuff Sed

Very plausible. Insider information?


Nuff Sed

A similar thing is true of the trainng of US Army Special Forces medics.

John Minehan

Yeah, it seems to have continued in that direction.

Around 2004, many businesses had delivery vans, company cars and . . . the "DShK truck for security.

Interesting place . . . .

Nuff Sed

Not really. There just happened to be someone on a TV show here in sunny Tehran talking about it last night. He didn't mention the specific countries, but those are the ones which stand to reason.


Nuff Sed

Thanks. Very helpful. Please pass to us anything like that from public media. Don't get in trouble.


Houthi are compared to T E Lawrence, their use of drones discussed. But the most significant contribution of this article is their governance:
The Houthi forces are small and highly mobile, and this, combined with Yemen’s mountainous terrain, provides them with force security. Most critically, they and their allies have respected the local populace by providing—at least relative to southern Yemen—high levels of security and predictability.

Sana’a, the capital of Yemen and a city of at least five million, is relatively crime- and al-Qaeda-free, and some basic public services continue to be provided despite a four-year-long blockade, ongoing aerial bombardment, and no electricity. Sana’a is, by necessity, the first capital city to be almost entirely dependent on solar power.
Are Yemen’s Houthis the Future of War?
Taking a page from T.E. Lawrence and excelling at primitive drone technology, these 'ragtag' insurgents are besting major powers in Yemen.
By Michael Horton • August 26, 2019

Philippe Truze

In early 80's, in Peshawar, I worked (part time) for a French NGO** which trained Afghan paramedics. As far as surgery was concern, the goal of the n-weeks training was very simple : to allow the wounded guy to survive 4 - 6 days, allowing his fellow mujaheddins to put him on a truck to rush (sic) to Peshawar.. And it was working (adding to the exceptional physical resistance of Afghans, which always stunned me..)
** : actually there was 2 French such training centers : MTA and MRCA.

Christian J Chuba

I was thinking along the same lines but just the reverse. Iranian engineers go to Yemen, examine what type of facilities they have for manufacturing and then do the R&D work so that the Yemenis can then do the production themselves. The Houthis do control the most populated areas of Yemen with the largest cities, they must have some production capability.

This way you only have to smuggle a few people in and out of the country. I would think that this is a lot easier then trying to import material in any significant quantity. Maybe we are seeing the drones / new missiles now because the R&D and production line development took 3 yrs.

JP Billen

Also impressive are the Houthi homemade long range rockets, with which they have hit Saudi Arabia. They started in 2015 by modifying their old SA-2 SAMs to SSMs and used them to attack Saudi targets. Also modified their SCUDs.

Lately they have the Badr-1, called an SRBM by some analysts. It is produced locally from steel tubing probably from the oil industry. And they make their own rocket fuel. When they ran out of working SA-2s they altered the SA-2 launch rails in order launch Badr. Waste not want not, as Grandma would have said.

The Badr-1P is guided and reportedly has accuracy of three meters. They used it on a Sudanese/Saudi military camp at Boqa last October, and perhaps on a few other sites in Saudi Jizan since then.

The latest guided version, the Badr-F, has a proximity-fused air burst 20 meters above the target with a reported flak radius of 350 meters.


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