Houthi Attacks Highlight Need for Developing Regional Integrated Air Defenses

On October 31—amid the Israel-Gaza war—Israel used its Arrow air defense system to intercept a ballistic missile en route to Eilat in southern Israel likely fired by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, and on October 19, the Houthis fired a barrage of cruise missiles and drones over the Red Sea toward Israel. The U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Carney intercepted four missiles and thirty drones and Saudi Arabia intercepted one missile. These attacks provide a stark reminder of the deadly “ring of fire” that Iran and its proxies have established around America’s troops and partners in the Middle East. However, Saudi Arabia’s interception of a missile headed toward Israel underscores the potential and benefits in terms of earlier warning and response time against threats that expanding regional air defense integration and cooperation would provide, even as apparent progress toward Israel-Saudi normalization pauses during the ongoing war.

To address the widespread threat from the Iranian regime, and to keep the prospect of Israel-Saudi normalization alive, the United States should build on the recent bilateral U.S.-Saudi Red Sands counter-unmanned aircraft systems exercise and develop multilateral exercises to advance the implementation of an integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) system in the region.

Click here to read the NatSec Brief.


Zac Schildcrout – Policy Analyst