The Houthis have emerged as a major thorn in the sides of the Saudi puppet regime. Beyond the threat of drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, the Houthis are delivering lickings to Saudi ground forces in the Yemen theater. Houthis are razors, and Saudis use low-quality mercenaries.
Saudi vulnerability is evident well before any total war with Iran.
Houthi armed forces duly claimed responsibility for the Abqaiq oil disruption: “This operation is one of the largest operations carried out by our forces in the depth of Saudi Arabia and came after an accurate intelligence operation and advance monitoring and cooperation of honorable and free men within the Kingdom.”
Notice the key concept: “cooperation” from inside Saudi Arabia. This could include the whole spectrum, from Yemenis to eastern province Shiites. The Houthis also indicated that the attack on Aramco was made possible by on-the-ground informers.
“It came after an accurate intelligence operation, advance monitoring and cooperation from honourable and free people inside (Saudi),” the group’s military spokesman said.
Even more relevant is the fact that massive American hardware has been deployed in Saudi Arabia, inside out and outside in — satellites, AWACS, Patriot missiles, drones, battleships, jet fighters — and they didn’t see a thing before the attack, or certainly not in time. The sighting of three “loitering” drones by a Kuwaiti bird hunter arguably heading toward Saudi Arabia is being evoked as “evidence.” Cue the embarrassing picture of a drone swarm — wherever it came from — flying undisturbed for hours over Saudi territory.
Patriot missiles nearly worthless
Officials openly admit that now what matters is everything within the 1,500 km range of the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone: oil fields in Saudi Arabia, a still-under-construction nuclear power plant in the Emirates, and Dubai’s mega-airport.
Analysis of weapons captured or seen in Houthi images show a combination of home-grown designs, entire foreign items and components brought in from outside to upgrade existing stock, a January 2018 U.N. panel of experts report said.
Curiously, parts of the Houthi drone are either Israeli or are Israeli-copied.
Professor Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran, who has very close relations with the foreign ministry, is adamant: “It didn’t come from Iran. If it did, it would be very embarrassing for the Americans, showing they are unable to detect a large number of Iranian drones and missiles. That doesn’t make sense.”
Marandi additionally stresses that “Saudi air defenses are not equipped to defend the country from Yemen but from Iran.” He said, “The Yemenis have been striking against the Saudis, they are getting better and better, developing drone and missile technology for four and a half years, and this was a very soft target.”
Hardly mentioned in western media was another explosion inside Saudi Arabia on Sept. 29. A massive fire engulfed the train station at Jeddah, which links Makkah and Madina.
Saudi Arabia is crumbling https://t.co/i28JuYx15e
— ፀደይ Tseday Mekbib Teklemariam Woldeyesus (@Tseday) September 29, 2019
The American response to this is standard: sell more air defense weaponry to Saudi Arabia. U.S. personal will man the equipment. This is an open invitation for the Houthis and Iran to test these systems within the confines of asymmetrical warfare.
Just the pre-war jabs alone have gotten quite expensive for U.S. interests. It also proves how expensive American gadgetry is compared to the asymmetric tech of the Iranians.
It’s apparent that the folks on Iran’s war staff are well versed in Trumpian World Wide Wrestling Federation psychodrama and the perverse American cartoon-world psyche. Trump engaged in more threats and then back-peddled after Iran scored a coup, downing a $220 million MQ-4C high-tech drone.
Trump then claimed the Iranian action was unintentional, to which Iran promptly corrected that, stating that it was unapologetically intentional. Furthermore, Iran suggested it could have easily taken down a manned P-8 military aircraft spy plane ($256 million price tag) as well but deferred.
Iranian forces claimed they used a version of the Buk M1 road-mobile SAM to shoot down the drone. The IRGC also possesses Russian-made S-300 air-defense systems. Iran announced that it had a “domestically made” system with the same capabilities as the S-300. Now, Russia is testing the S-500 in Syria.
Iran has had 40 years to develop low-tech asymmetric warfare on a country that has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on gadgetry.
Currently, U.S. cruise missiles are among the most expensive among single-use weapons, up to several million dollars apiece. One consequence of this is that its users face difficult choices in target allocation to avoid expending the missiles on targets of low value. For instance, during the 2001 strikes on Afghanistan, the U.S. attacked targets of very low monetary value with cruise missiles, which led many to question the efficiency of the weapon.
On April 6, 2017, 59 Tomahawk missiles were launched targeting Shayrat Airbase near Homs, in Syria. An independent bomb-damage assessment conducted by ImageSat International counted hits on 44 targets, with some targets being hit by more than one missile. These figures were determined using satellite images of the airbase 10 hours after the strike. However, the Russian defense ministry contends that the combat effectiveness of the attack was “extremely low.” Only 23 missiles hit the base, destroying six aircraft.
The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said the country’s development of ballistic missile technology had changed “the balance of power” in the region.
According to Salami, the Revolutionary Guards began tests using ballistic missiles as “a way to end the story of American aircraft carriers in the area” some 12 years ago.
The U.S. is likely to give its aircraft carriers a wide berth. The most effective weapon Iran has is the sea mine, which will choke off the Persian Gulf. Iran has 15,000 of these, and they have low-tech but effective price tags at $25,000 a pop. Any clearing of these mines will be risky and expensive. A number of U.S. ships have been damaged by mines in past regional conflicts.
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) focuses more on smaller, fast-moving, heavily armed ships for an anti-access, area-denial role in the inner Persian Gulf against Iran’s neighbors and the U.S. The IRGCN also controls Iran’s shore-based anti-ship missiles.
In 2002, Marine Gen. Paul Van Riper led an Iran-like Red Team in a U.S. military exercise called The Millennium Challenge 2002. Van Riper launched a preemptive “swarm strike” against an approaching U.S. amphibious force, using a huge anti-ship cruise missile barrage that over-saturated their sophisticated Aegis air-defense systems. This was combined with a swarming attack by fast boats. His attack sank 16 ships and killed 20,000 Blue Team personnel.
Van Riper apparently hadn’t understood that he was meant to lose the war game in order to validate U.S. military doctrine, so the exercise was promptly rebooted to have the “right” outcome. My speculation is logical: The neocon psychopaths running the U.S. war biz have exposed themselves and, with supreme hubris, ignored Van Riper’s lessons on their obsolete doctrine. The general has said as much.
Van Riper discussed ultimatums and threats in his Nova interview.
“What advantage is there for Red to wait for Blue to strike?” There was none. And that lead to the natural conclusion that if they’re coming, and we can’t persuade them not to diplomatically, then we will strike.
As I looked at an ultimatum that gave me less than 24 hours to respond to what literally was a surrender document, it was clear to me that there was no advantage in any of this diplomacy. I was very surprised that the Joint Forces Command personnel who had argued for using all of the elements of national power—the economic, the diplomatic, the political information—in some sort of coherent fashion, really came at Red with a blunt military instrument. So it was clear to me that this was not going to be negotiated, this was going to be a fight. And if it was going to be a fight, I was going to get in the first blow.
Indeed, besides the effective sea mines, the “Mad Max”-style tactics of barreling toward enemies at maximum speed in swarms of over-gunned open-topped motor vehicles may seem outlandish, but it has a certain logic for Iran. The small and affordable boats have low radar signatures; which, combined with speed, would significantly reduce their target’s reaction time. More importantly, should the U.S. approach Persian shores, their sheer numbers could overwhelm the expensive defensive systems on board U.S. warships.
From the IRGCN’s standpoint, and replicating Van Riper doctrine, the U.S. Navy’s advanced warships bristling with missiles are the Death Star, and the death blow is swarms of fast boats and maneuverable fighters capable overwhelming advanced defenses.
The Seraj-1 fast-attack craft was built on the “Bladerunner” design and is known for its stability, high mobility and strength. The newest version has large-caliber armaments, especially the 107-mm rocket launcher on the bridge and the DShKM mounted on the front. It can hit speeds of 90-100 knots (Seraj-2, Seraj-3) with a low silhouette. Iran has 30,000 of these equipped with short-range anti-ship missiles that approach at low altitude.
Iran also possesses thousands of small, hard-to-detect swarm drones that can land quick, hard punches. Expending high-tech cruise missiles and trying to hit these on the ground is a fine proposition and trade off for Iran.
Iran has imported Chinese C802 Silkworm missiles with a strike range of 120 miles, as well as reverse-engineered its own domestic Noor cruise missile, and it began working on a 200-mile range Ghadir ASCM. The width of the Persian Gulf ranges only between 35 to 212 miles.