Analysis- Direct action imminent Against Houthis

Frank Gardner

security correspondent in BBC

Something has to change in the Red Sea. The current situation is unsustainable, both economically and militarily. From a purely fiscal standpoint there is a massive mismatch between the cost of a Houthi drone (roughly £17,000) and a Royal Navy Sea Viper missile (£1m plus) used to destroy incoming missiles.

Different weapons are used by both sides, with the Houthis also deploying more expensive anti-ship ballistic missiles and uncrewed surface vessels (USVs), ie explosive boat drones. But thanks to Iranian help, the Houthis have a large supply of missiles and drones that they can use in a “swarm attack”, hoping to overwhelm the air defences of Western warships.

A new report today by the UK defence think tank Rusi says the Houthis are likely being provided with intelligence by an Iranian surveillance ship in the Red Sea, the MV Behshad.

The pressure on the crews of warships now deployed on the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian in the Red Sea is also immense. As former Royal Navy commanders have pointed out, there can be as little as 30 seconds’ warning between the detection of an incoming supersonic missile and its impact.

These are all reasons why, if the Houthis persist in these attacks, then direct military action against them is possibly imminent.

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