Missile and drone attacks in the United Arab Emirates by Houthi rebels over the past two weeks have been seen as a turning point in the geopolitics of the region. While the attacks marked a significant escalation in the Houthis’ threat to Gulf states, the attacks may have prompted the UAE to seek help from an unlikely partner: Israel.
US news site Breaking Defense reported on Tuesday that the United Arab Emirates had “silently and unofficially asked Israel to acquire missile defense systems to help protect it from Houthi missile attacks.” reported that Israel’s weapons could serve as a stopgap solution for the UAE before it takes delivery of a surface missile system from South Korea by 2024.”
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An Israeli source told Breaking Defense that three systems operations, or a combination of the three, could be a partial answer until the South Korean system comes online: Israeli Aerospace Industry’s Barak 8 or Barak ER, or Rafael Spyder,” Breaking reported. Defense.Barak8 was jointly developed by the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the DRDO and is in service with the armed forces of India and Israel.
The Barak8 has a range of approximately 70 km and can in intercept aircraft, low-flying anti-ship and cruise missiles and stealth targets. It exists in both sea-launched and land-launched configurations. The Barak ER (extended range) is a variant of the Barak8 which is larger because it has an additional rocket, giving it a range of 150 km.
In addition to handling cruise missiles and aircraft, the Barak ER is capable of intercepting tactical ballistic missiles, which typically have a range of less than 500 km.
The Barak8 was exported from Israel to Azerbaijan, which reportedly used the weapon in the 2020 conflict with Armenia to shoot down a Russian-made ballistic missile launched from Armenia. The SPYDER is a weapon system that combines in a surface-launched configuration two missiles developed by Israel, the Python5 and the Derby, originally designed for air-to-air combat.
While the Python5 is a short-range heat-seeking missile, the Derby is a medium-range radar-guided missile. The Indian Air Force already operates the SPYDER system, which can eliminate various threats such as aircraft, cruise missiles, drones and even bombs dropped by aircraft. The UAE is not the first country to keep tabs on Israeli weapons to deal with the Houthi threat.
Last year, Breaking Defense reported that Saudi Arabia was considering buying Barak ER or Iron Dome missiles to counter Houthi drones and cruise missiles. Earlier this month, the Jerusalem Post, an Israeli news outlet, reported that Morocco was in talks to buy the Barak8 missile.