The Houthis unveiled on August 24 two air-defense systems, which have been secretly in service with their air-defense units since 2017.
In a televised conference, Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari, a spokesman for the Houthis, said that the two systems, dubbed the Fatir-1 and the Thaqib-1, were used against many warplanes and drones of the Saudi-led coalition and even the U.S. military.
The Fatir-1 missile was identified as a modified copy of the semi-active radar (SAR) guided 9M336, the standard armament of the well-known Soviet SA-6 “Gainful” air-defense system.
The SA-6 system has a range of 25km and engagement altitude of up to 8km. The Houthis likely obtained the system from the stockpiles of the former Yemeni Air Defense Force.
Brig. Gen. Sari said that the Fatir-1 system was successfully used to shot down at least two MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) of the U.S. military. The first one was shot down over the coastal Yemeni city of al-Hudaydah last June, while the second was downed over the city of Dhamar a few days ago only.
The U.S. Central Command (CENCOM) revealed in an offical statement that a SA-6 system was used to down the MQ-9 UCAV near al-Hudaydah last June.
Unlike the Fatir-1, the Houthis didn’t release any photos of the Thaqib-1 air-defense system.
Brig. Gen. Sari said that the Thaqip-1 was “locally-developed.” However, he declined to provide any details saying that further information on the system will be revealed later.
The Houthis are known for operating modified air-to-air missiles, such as Soviet-made, infrared-guided R-27T and R-73E. Thaqip-1 could be a codename for one of these modified missiles.
The Houthis’ growing air-defense capabilities:
According to Brig. Gen. Sari, the Houthis air-defense force has launched 166 anti-aircraft missiles since 2017.
72 missiles targeted drones of the Saudi-led coalition and the U.S. military, 45 targeted warplanes of the coalition and 49 were launched against Saudi and UAE AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
“The air-defense [force] plans to deploy defensive systems in all Yemeni regions,” the spokesman said stressing that the Houthis will continue to develop their air-defense capabilities until they are able to counter any aerial threat.
In the framework of these efforts, a third and fourth air-defense systems were “developed” by the Houthis, according to the spokesman, who said that they will be revealed soon.
Brig. Gen. Sari concluded his conference by promising that the next year will be “the air-defense year” in Yemen.