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Saudis Under Heavy Attack.
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Saudis Under Heavy Attack.
Saudi Arabia has a growing problem with Iranian UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) used as cruise missiles. For several years Iran has been smuggling in UAV components to northern Yemen where Shia rebels have been trying to take over the entire country since 2014. That offensive was thwarted in 2015 by the intervention of an Arab Coalition that halted and pushed back the rebels. Unfortunately for the Saudis the home province of the Shia rebels is in northwest Yemen along the Saudi border. That border is 1,800 kilometers long although only about a hundred kilometers is controlled by the Shia rebels. Even before the civil war the Saudis suffered cross-border raids by the Yemeni Shia. Those attacks increased after 2015, with the addition of Iranian rockets and missiles. By 2017s Iranian UAVs and cruise missiles were used against Saudi economic and military targets farther from the border. The Saudis were prepared for the ballistic missiles and long-range rockets and used their Patriot AMD (anti-missile defense) systems to stop the rockets and missiles headed for a populated area or an economic or military target. The Iranian UAVs and small cruise missiles were harder to detect and shoot down. The Saudis adopted older Israeli tactics against the UAVs, which were carrying explosives on a one-way mission using GPS to guide them along a programmed course to a specific target. These improvised cruise missiles were smaller, slower and flying lower than the original American cruise missiles that used a small jet engine and, before GPS became available in the 1990s, less accurate but effective guidance systems. The Iranian UAV/cruise missiles cost a tenth of what conventional cruise missile do and are easier to smuggle into Yemen and assemble locally for a single one-way mission. These UAVs were more prone to failure and some were found on both sides of the border after they crashed. But most of them worked and the Saudis turned to their American advisors for ideas. Radars that could detect the low/slow UAVs were easier and cheaper to obtain that methods for destroying them. The Saudis have apparently been using air-to-air missiles fired by their F-15 jet fighters.
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