HMS Diamond Intercepts Houthi Missile in Gulf of Aden, Marking Royal Navy's Combat Missile Intercept Since 1991

On April 26, 2024, the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond shot down a Houthi missile in the Gulf of Aden, the first such interception by a UK warship since the 1991 Gulf War, highlighting the growing threat from Iran-backed rebels.

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Wojciech Zylm
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HMS Diamond Intercepts Houthi Missile in Gulf of Aden, Marking Royal Navy's Combat Missile Intercept Since 1991

British Royal Navy Destroyer Shoots Down Ballistic Missile in First Combat Engagement Since 1991 Gulf War

On April 26, 2024, the British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond successfully intercepted and shot down a ballistic missile fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden. This marks the initial instance of a Royal Navy warship shooting down a missile in combat since the 1991 Gulf War, according to UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps.

The Houthi missile, believed to be either an Iranian-made Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missile or a longer-range Zolfaghar missile, was targeting a merchant vessel in the region. HMS Diamond's advanced Sea Viper missile system successfully intercepted and destroyed the threat. "This was the initial instance of a missile being intercepted in combat by a Royal Navy warship since 1991," Shapps confirmed.

Why this matters: The incident highlights the growing sophistication of Houthi weapons supplied by Iran and underscores the need for increased defense spending to counter such threats. It also demonstrates the UK's commitment to protecting international shipping in the crucial Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region.

HMS Diamond has been actively engaged in defending against Houthi drone and missile attacks in the Red Sea, a vital shipping lane, which have increased significantly since the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza conflict. The UK and US have formed a multinational coalition, Operation Prosperity Guardian, to respond to the Houthi threats in the region.

UK's Anti-Houthi Action: The UK has been at the forefront of the international response to the Houthi attacks on commercial vessels, which have claimed the lives of international mariners. The UK's broader response has included intercepting weapon smuggling to Yemen, imposing sanctions on Houthi members, and conducting targeted strikes against Houthi military targets.

Commander Peter Evans, the commanding officer of HMS Diamond, expressed pride in his ship's company for their professionalism in reacting quickly to defeat the threat. "This was the initial instance of a Navy warship shooting down a missile of any kind in combat since the 1991 Gulf War," he noted. The successful interception by HMS Diamond marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to protect international shipping from the indiscriminate and illegal Houthi attacks that continue to harm the global economy and undermine the stability and security of Yemen.

Key Takeaways

  • Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond shot down Houthi missile in Gulf of Aden on April 26, 2024.
  • This was the first time a Royal Navy warship intercepted a missile in combat since 1991 Gulf War.
  • Incident highlights growing sophistication of Houthi weapons supplied by Iran, need for defense spending.
  • UK and US formed coalition, Operation Prosperity Guardian, to respond to Houthi threats in the region.
  • Successful interception marks milestone in efforts to protect international shipping from Houthi attacks.