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Ansar Allah Have The Best Iranian Missiles

November 21, 2022
Via Ansar Allah media.

The record of arms trafficking to Yemen during the active conflict from 2015 until this year is quite substantial. But when it came to the external support for Ansar Allah, who control much of the northwest, it was always Iran that never failed at sustaining the organization’s war effort. Since 2019 the military controlled by Ansar Allah–an institution that combines its irregulars with the Saleh-era armed forces–have promoted “self-sufficiency.” When a ceasefire in April extended for months they went farther by orchestrating huge public events. This is how Iranian missiles, renamed and painted over, have finally been identified as a critical part of Ansar Allah’s arsenal.

Different Iranian missiles and rockets passed off as local achievements were shown on two specific occasions. These are a parade in Hodeidah on September 3 and a much larger parade in the capital Sana’a on September 23. What each revealed was Ansar Allah’s newfound confidence in their own domain–the greater part of northwestern Yemen–and the military they built up over the years to withstand a relentless assault by the Gulf monarchies. During the Sana’a event in particular thousands of soldiers marched past a crowded pavilion before trailers carrying missiles and other ordnance rolled by in impeccable columns. Setting aside the usual artillery and tanks, the most eye-catching among the road mobile precision weapons were a genuine “family” of cruise missiles named “Quds” or Jerusalem. (Pictured above.)

This year saw what is likely the first public appearance of the Quds-3 cruise missile whose transporter, a Russian-made Ural truck judging by its shape, was loaded on a semi-trailer and driven across the parade ground. For some inconceivable reason Ansar Allah organized these huge parades to advertise their missiles but shrouded the actual transporter vehicles. It’s a strange attempt at secrecy since the canvass used to hide the same vehicles forms an easily discernible shape. For example, one of the ballistic missiles at the Sana’a parade, a short-range model resembling the Fateh-series made in Iran, had a transporter vehicle that resembled the Soviet vintage ZiL 8×8 transporter. This doesn’t mean Iran and Russia are colluding to help strengthen Ansar Allah, rather, available resources once owned by Yemen’s armed forces are being adapted for the needs of Ansar Allah’s budding rocket force.

The Quds-2 cruise missile in 2021. Via Ansar Allah media.

As for the Quds cruise missiles their earliest promotional media dates to 2019 when a model painted in light gray was displayed at an indoor exhibition along with other large diameter missiles that were claimed to have been made by Ansar Allah’s engineers. A marine blue cruise missile assumed to be the Quds-2 was revealed at a similar event in late 2021. (See above.) In a sure sign that whole batches are being assembled with Iranian input–this can be done with specialists embedded in Ansar Allah’s military-industrial sector or through online consultations–the Quds-3 was shown at the Sana’a parade in late September. For a country that is now partitioned and ruined by unrestricted warfare that only ceased a few months ago the advent of the Quds-1/2/3 represents the fastest development cycle for a precision missile in the Arab world. To make at least two useful comparisons, during the heyday of Iraq’s ballistic missile program in the late 1980s the effort never branched off and resulted in cruise missiles. Another comparison applies to Syria: By 2010 it was supposed to have the largest ballistic missile inventory among Arab states but these were a mix of Soviet vintage and North Korean models. Today that inventory is now depleted and no fresh production is underway.

Looking back at the timeline from 2019, when the Quds-1 was shown in Ansar Allah media, and through the pandemic and the humanitarian woes Yemen endured it’s astonishing how a diverse missile arsenal was put together in record time. The Quds-3 is estimated to have a maximum range of 1,200 km although other assessments claim it travels farther, putting Saudi Arabia’s length and breadth well within its targeting envelope. At the rate these cruise missiles are evolving if a hypothetical “Quds-4” emerges soon Ansar Allah may integrate a new engine type along with composite materials to give it even more range and radar-evading properties. To date, Ansar Allah have received help with assembling five types of precision weapons from Iran: cruise missiles, ballistic missiles (solid fuel and liquid fuel), surface-to-air missiles, large diameter rocket artillery, and loitering munitions. Among the road mobile ballistic missiles Ansar Allah possess are a batch of solid fuel “Hatem” missiles that reach up to 1,400 kilometers. But the Hatems are re-branded Iranian Kheybar Shekan MRBMs that were unveiled in February this year. In just several months after the IRGC’s own “rocket force” fielded these some have been sent to Ansar Allah as a means for strengthening them as a counter-balance against the Saudis and Emiratis.

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