UPDATED: U.S., U.K. Launch Major Strike Mission on Houthi Missile, Drone Infrastructure

January 22, 2024 6:03 PM - Updated: January 22, 2024 7:53 PM
A F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) on Jan. 22, 2024, as part of the strike mission against missile and drone infrastructure targets in Yemen. US Navy Photo

The U.S. and U.K. conducted a major round of strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen amid the group’s ongoing attacks on commercial shipping and warships in the Red Sea.

Including help from Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Bahrain, the U.S. and the United Kingdom hit eight targets in “proportionate and necessary strikes,” according to a joint statement from the six countries.

“These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent mariners, and are in response to a series of illegal, dangerous, and destabilizing Houthi actions since our coalition strikes on January 11, including anti-ship ballistic missile and unmanned aerial system attacks that struck two U.S.-owned merchant vessels,” the statement reads.“Today’s strike specifically targeted a Houthi underground storage site and locations associated with the Houthis’ missile and air surveillance capabilities.”

The coalition used a combination of Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles fired from guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG-58), guided-missile destroyers USS Mason (DDG-87), USS Gravely (DDG-107) and at least one unspecified U.S. submarine to hit the targets, U.S. defense official told reporters on Monday. F/A-18E/F Super Hornets flying from aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and U.K. land-based fighters dropped precision munitions on targets as well.

“I have to reiterate that we are specifically avoiding escalation by selecting these locations and individual targets that will remove capability used in maritime attacks. We are not at this time expanding beyond that target set,” the official said.
“It is the weapons systems and support systems they’ve used to carry out these maritime attacks and that’s it.”

U.S. Central Command said some of the sites were near the Yemen capital of Sanaa.

“[A] Houthi official told Al Jazeera that the bombing had hit the capital’s al-Dailami Air Base, as well as locations in the governorates of Taiz, Al Bayda and Hajjah,” Al Jazeera reported.

The U.S. has termed the operation targeting Houthi strike capabilities as “Operation Poseidon Archer,” according to CNN.

A senior military official told reporters on Monday the strike mission was distinct from ongoing Operation Prosperity Garden, which is a much broader coalition dedicated to safe passage of merchant ships in the region, but did not confirm the name of the operation.

According to the coalition, the Houthis have launched over 30 attacks on different vessels in the Red Sea in the last two months.

On Jan. 11, the U.S. and U.K. struck Houthi targets in Yemen for the first time after nearly three months of Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the region, USNI News reported at the time. That first round of strikes originated from submarines, strike fighters, and surface ships.

Since then, the U.S. has made limited, smaller strikes on weapons sites that U.S. Central Command says post a threat to merchant traffic.

For example, last week, U.S. forces struck 14 Houthi missiles that the Defense Department says were preparing to fire on ships in the Red Sea.

Houthi forces began striking merchant ships in the Red Sea with a variety of missiles and one-way attack drones on Oct. 17 in solidarity with Hamas forces in their ongoing conflict with Israel. Initially, according to the Houthis, the merchant ships targeted had connections with Israel. Following the joint U.K. and U.S. strikes on Jan. 11, the Houthis have declared that U.S. and U.K.-connected merchant ships are potential targets.

Mallory Shelbourne and Sam LaGrone

Mallory Shelbourne and Sam LaGrone are USNI News staff writers.

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