Egozi: Iranian Missiles in Yemen

This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)

By Arie Egozi

Israel may expand its attacks on Iranian upgraded missiles deployed in sites far from its borders.

In parallel, Israel will have to add sensors that will detect pre-launch preparations and launch.

This may involve greater cooperation with the U.S. that is already very vast.

Until now, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has performed hundreds of airstrikes against the Iranian effort to upgrade the existing arsenal of missiles in the hands of the Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Now, following intelligence data pointing to the deployment of Iranian missiles in countries like Yemen, Israel may perform long-range strikes to foil any Iranian attempt to use countries like Yemen for the launch of missiles against Israeli targets.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said recently that Iran is seeking to develop precision-guided missiles that can strike with an accuracy of  5-10 meters from any target in the Middle East.

“They seek also to develop that, and have already begun to put that in Yemen, with the goal of reaching Israel from there too,” he said.
This was one of the only times that Netanyahu has publicly spoken about Iran wanting to use Yemen to launch attacks against Israel.

The warning about Yemen was not a surprise for Israeli experts as some of the Iranian long-range ballistic missiles can reach Israel in spite of the fact that Yemen is very far from Israel (2200 km).

Israeli sources say that the ballistic missile threat is not the only one that worries Israel. The other is that Iran may use Yemen as a launch point of missiles and armed drones to attack Israeli ships sailing in the Red Sea.

Ships, mainly from Asian ports, use the Bab al-Mandeb strait and sail in the Red Sea either to the Israeli port in Eilat, or go through the Suez Canal to Israel Ashdod and Haifa ports in the Mediterranean.

While some doubt the strategic benefit of launching Iranian ballistic missiles from Yemen, others say that in this region, “things that at first glance look unreasonable, become a fact the day after.”

The Prime Minister’s words about Iranian missiles in Yemen may be connected to what IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said recently. Kochavi said that Israel is currently dealing with multiple arenas and enemies at the same time, with the northern front the most fragile and at risk of deteriorating into war.

He added that despite the fact that Israel’s enemies are not interested in war, the IDF has “increased its pace of preparations” for confrontation.

 “On both the northern and southern fronts, the situation is tense and fragile, and could deteriorate into a confrontation,” Kochavi said. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s disclosure of the presence of Iranian ballistic missiles in Yemen that could be launched to hit targets in Israel requires that Israel first and foremost expands its overall intelligence-gathering capabilities in this country and the region that is used by Iran very extensively. There is also a need to strengthen ties with intelligence agencies operating in the Yemen region, to more accurately monitor missile batteries of various types, with emphasis on ballistic and cruise missiles.

Iran has developed a range of ballistic missiles. One is the Shahab -5 estimated to be based on the North Korean Taepodong -2. 

The potential range of the missile is estimated to be between 3500 to 4000 km. The missile can carry a warhead of 750 kgs.

The main challenge in missile interception is the detection and alert phase. For this, Israel has the Green Pine detection radar that is part of the Arrow ballistic missile interceptor.  The second stage that requires the presence of these missiles concerns attack capabilities. 

In addition, within the emerging threats in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria – and according to the Prime Minister’s remarks on Yemen – security officials have introduced requirements to increase the availability of various types of weapon systems to be used by the IAF .

An American X-band TPY-2 radar is deployed in Southern Israel and the data is shared with the IAF.

Israeli sources said that the “multi-directional” threat will force the IAF, in charge of the country’s multi-layered ballistic missile defense system, to add sensors on the ground, and in the air and space.

Arie Egozi, iHLS Editor-in-Chief