Interactive: The Missile War in Yemen
Updated September 17, 2020.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led “Arab Coalition” launched Operation Decisive Storm in order to bolster the internationally recognized Yemeni government led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Since then, Houthi rebels in Yemen have launched a significant number of short-range ballistic missiles towards Saudi Arabia and other coalition military installations within and outside of Yemen. Despite major efforts to negate Houthi ballistic missile assets through airstrikes and strict air, sea, and ground restrictions, the Houthis have maintained and continue to develop their missile arsenal.
The Missile War in Yemen (June 2020) is the first comprehensive review of missile and missile defense activity in the ongoing Yemen conflict. It reviews the events and trends that have shaped this part of the war, the strategy behind Houthi missile attacks, and how Houthi militants have acquired these weapons. It furthermore examines the ways the Arab coalition has countered the Houthi missile campaign, including its employment of Patriot missile defenses, efforts to close missile proliferation networks, and the efficacy of its attempts to destroy Houthi missile capabilities from the air.
This map shows the relative intensity of missile- and missile defense-related activity across the Arabian Gulf which has occurred as part of the ongoing Yemen conflict. Beginning in June 2015, the bulk of these incidents have occurred along the Yemen-Saudi border around the cities of Jizan, Najran, and Khamis Mushait, but Houthi acquisition of longer-range missiles have also permitted attacks as far as Riyadh. Saudi and UAE Patriot missile defenses have intercepted a high number of these launches. Significant activity has also been seen around al-Mokha and the Bab-al Mandab Strait, where Houthi forces have repeatedly fired antiship cruise missiles and artillery rockets at nearby military and commercial vessels.
As of September 16, 2020, there have been 177 publicly reported intercepts of missiles fired from Yemen. Data gathering for this project ended in September 2020.
This timeline illustrates Arab coalition intercepts of ballistic missiles launched from within Yemen since the operation began. The Saudi-led coalition is employing PATRIOT ballistic missile defense units to defend against these strikes. Its first reported intercept of a ballistic missile fired by Houthi forces occurred in June 2015. Due to the limited reliability of information concerning the ongoing conflict, there may have been other intercepts or ballistic missile strikes not reflected here. The information on this timeline was obtained from the Saudi Press Agency, Kuwait News Agency, Emirates News Agency, and Al-Arabiya as well as Houthi sources such as Al-Masirah and Saba News. These sources are subject to biases and distortions, requiring the research team’s judgement for classification.
PLEASE NOTE: A “strike” as indicated in the timeline does not necessarily equate a failed intercept, as many missile strikes have occurred in areas not protected by missile defense forces. This information is in no way an accurate means to assess the reliability of Patriot or any other air and/or missile defense system.