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Tomahawk missiles, 1,200mph jets, & Reaper drones…the incredible firepower aimed at Houthis in revenge for Red Sea raids

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AFTER weeks of Iran-backed rebel attacks in the Red Sea, the US and UK hit back last night with a devastating arsenal of state-of-the-art weapons.

Laser-guided Tomahawk missiles, 1,200mph fighter jets, Reaper drones and destroyers are suspected to have been involved in the pounding of at least 60 Houthi militia targets at 16 sites.

The moment an RAF Typhoon launched a precision strike on a Houthi military target in Yemen last night

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The moment an RAF Typhoon launched a precision strike on a Houthi military target in Yemen last nightCredit: UK Ministry of Defence / Crown 2024

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A RAF Typhoon taking off last night to strike Houthi sites in Yemen

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A RAF Typhoon taking off last night to strike Houthi sites in YemenCredit: Getty
Huge explosions rang out across 16 locations in Yemen overnight

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Huge explosions rang out across 16 locations in Yemen overnightCredit: Sky News

Under the cover of darkness, RAF Typhoons joined US F-35 Lightning stealth jets as they pounded Houthi bases, while US warships launched deadly 1,000lb missiles.

Last night, western coalition forces smashed dozens of military targets, including an airbase, airport and army camp in what Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called “a proportional action of self-defence”.

More than 100 precision-guided munitions including Tomahawk missiles were used to hit Yemen’s capital Sanaa as well as Hudaydah, the Houthi Red Sea port stronghold, Dhamar and north-western Houthi stronghold of Saada.

The PM today said the UK needs to send a “strong signal” that the Houthi rebel attacks are wrong and cannot be carried out with “impunity”.

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He said: “Our aim is very clear, it’s to de-escalate tensions and restore stability to the region.”

US President Joe Biden hailed the air strikes on sites used by the Iran-backed militia group a “success” and said he would “not hesitate” to launch more.

It’s the first time strikes have been launched against Houthis since they began wreaking havoc on international shipping in the Red Sea in mid-November.

And it marks a dramatic escalation in the crisis that for weeks has been threatening to ignite an all-out war across the region over Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas.

The Houthis announced that five militants were killed and six injured by the overnight assaults as they pledged “unimaginable revenge”.

The furious group told the US and UK they had made a “huge mistake launching the war in Yemen”.

The full extent of the weapons arsenal used in the overnight blitz has not yet been made public.

But here’s what we know so far:

RAF Typhoons

These single-seat, twin-engine fighter jets are the pride of the Royal Air Force and can travel up to 1,380mph (Mach 1.8) at an altitude of 55,000ft.

The £110million beasts are designed to carry air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles as well as precision-guided bombs.

The UK Defence Ministry said that four were involved in last night’s blitz that delivered Paveway IV bombs, which carry 500lb warheads.

The typhoons were accompanied by Voyager air refuelling tanks which allow the jets to fly long distances.

They targeted two Houthi sites – one was a site in Bani, north-western Yemen, which was used to launch reconnaissance and attack drones, the ministry said.

The second was an airfield at Abbs, which was used as a cruise missile and drone launch site.

The MOD later said the typhoons flew from RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus, while recon jets were spotted flying over Saudi Arabia last night.

British drones equipped with lethal Hellfire missiles were also said to be primed to be used in the airstrikes – but it remains unconfirmed.

A British Typhoon back at RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus after the joint mission with the US

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A British Typhoon back at RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus after the joint mission with the US
The beasts of the air travel at 1,380mph and can carry 500lb warheads

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The beasts of the air travel at 1,380mph and can carry 500lb warheadsCredit: PA:Press Association

F-35B Lightning Stealth jets

One of the world’s favourite and most expensive fighter jet models – the F35B is known for its stealth, speed and aerodynamic body.

Their world-renowned sensors, systems and airframe enable it to be undetected by enemies while it soars high in the sky at 50,000ft travelling at up to 1,200mph (Mach 1.6).

The £85million aircraft is capable of conducting air-to-surface, electronic warfare, intelligence gathering and air-to-air missions simultaneously.

Reaper Drones

These large US hunter-killer UAVs can fly at 50,000ft at a speed of 300mph and weigh over 10,500lb.

They are remotely piloted and specially designed for irregular warfare environments.

Its advanced senors, communications suite and precision weapons allow it to perform strikes, coordination and reconnaissance all at the same time.

Tomahawk missiles

The US Navy’s Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles are low-flying cruise missiles which are fired from the deck’s of warships to deliver a 1,000lb warhead hundreds of miles inland.

Launched from both US surface ships or submarines, Tomahawks fly are GPS-guided and fly at subsonic speeds and can evade air defence systems, according to the US Navy.

Footage from last night shows the moment what appears to be a Tomahawk was fired a US Navy warship stationed close to the coast of Yemen.

Paveway IV bombs

These precision-guided munitions use both GPS and lasers to locate targets before relentlessly hunting them down.

Each bomb carries a hefty price tag of £30,000 and they rained down on two Houthi military bases last night.

The bombs were first used by the UK in 2008 in Operation Herrick in Afghanistan and was later employed in oeprations in Libya, Iraq and Syria.

In December 2015, the RAF began launching the Paveway IVs from Typhoons during strike operations in Syria – the first use of the bomb from this aircraft, UK Defence Journal reports.

A file picture of an RAF Typhoon carrying the lethal  laser-guided Paveway bombs

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A file picture of an RAF Typhoon carrying the lethal laser-guided Paveway bombsCredit: Supplied
The moment an unknown missile is launched from a US warship during the coalition operation

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The moment an unknown missile is launched from a US warship during the coalition operation
A frightening Tomahawk missile is pictured being launched from a US warship in 2011

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A frightening Tomahawk missile is pictured being launched from a US warship in 2011Credit: Handout – Getty


It comes as…

  • Sunak has warned that UK needs to send ‘strong signal’ to Houthis
  • President Biden said ‘he will not hesitate’ to launch further strikes to protect the free flow of commerce
  • Houthi leaders have warned US and UK would ‘pay a heavy price’ and they would strike back with ‘unimaginable’ revenge
  • Both Iran and Hezbollah have condemned the attacks as a ‘clear violation of Yemen’s sovereignty’
  • Turkey’s president Erdogan said the US & UK were ‘trying to turn Red Sea into sea of blood’
  • Last night, four RAF Typhoon jets bombed two Houthi targets, flying from Akrotiri base in Cyprus
  • US warship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and US jets attacked 16 sites
  • Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands also backed the US-UK airstrikes
  • The strikes followed gunmen storming a Greek-owned 900ft tanker carrying 145,000 tons of crude and ordered it to sail to Iran

Major General Rupert Jones told The Sun the strikes are “very significant” moment in the Red Sea crisis.

“It is not about trying to destroy the Houthis. It is not about taking the war to the Houthis,” said the retired military officer, it’s about “drawing the line”.

“It makes really clear to the Houthis and indeed, their Iranian backers that attacks on to international maritime navigation is not tolerable.”

He continued: “I suspect [the Houthis] will want to strike against, or try and strike against shipping again. And so it’s possible there will need to be another round rounder strikes.

“But I think what the Americans and British will be hoping is that they can now hold.”

In response to last nights “targeted strikes”, Iran fumed they were a “clear violation of Yemen’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and a violation of international laws.

The attacks “will have no result other than fuelling insecurity and instability in the region,” foreign ministry’s spokesman Nasser Kanani said.

Iran’s terror proxies and Houthi allies, Hezbollah and Hamas, have both condemned the strikes and blamed the US and UK for escalating the conflict.

However, Sunak said the “targeted strikes” were “limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defence”.

He added: “Despite the repeated warnings from the international community, the Houthis have continued to carry out attacks in the Red Sea, including against UK and US warships just this week.”

The strikes came only hours after masked gunmen in military uniforms stormed the St Nikolas – a Greek-owned 900ft tanker carrying 145,000 tons of crude – and ordered it to sail to Iran.

Iran’s navy said the seizure was in retaliation for the ship and oil it had aboard being confiscated by the US last year.

Thursday night’s strikes were carried out with the support of Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed.

Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and South Korea also assisted.

President Biden said military action was a “direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels”.

He added that it sent a “clear message” that the US and its partners will not stand by while the Houthis attempt to cripple international shipping.

The US and Britain had both warned that the group faced “consequences” for Tuesday’s attack on their navies in the Red Sea.

British and US warships shot down a barrage of 18 drones and three cruise and anti-ship ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis in thier largest attack so far.

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond blasted seven of the drones out of the sky and Defence Secretary Shapps says the warship was “deliberately targeted”.

Earlier this week, Britain deployed HMS Richmond to the area after the Iran-backed militia refused to stand down.

The Type 23 frigate set sail from Plymouth last week armed with 32 Sea Captor missiles and a Wildcat helicopter.

HMS Richmond joins the destroyer HMS Diamond, frigate HMS Lancaster, a squadron of three mine-hunting vessels HMS Bangor, HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Middleton and the support ship RFA Cardigan Bay.

The Houthi rebels have vowed to strike back with 'unimaginable' revenge

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The Houthi rebels have vowed to strike back with ‘unimaginable’ revengeCredit: Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Who are the Houthi Rebels?

THE Houthi rebels are terrorising vessels in the Red Sea and now their bases are being struck by the US and UK – but who are they?

The Shia militant group, which now controls most of Yemen, spent over a decade being largely ignored by the world.

However, since the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war they sprung from relative obscurity to holding roughly £1trillion of world trade hostage – turning one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes into an active warzone.

Why are they attacking ships?

The rebel group has been launching relentless drone and missile attacks on any ships they deem to be connected with Israel in solidarity with their ally Hamas.

The sea assaults have threatened to ignite a full-blown war in the Middle East as ripples from Israel’s war in Gaza are felt across the region – with Iran suspected of stoking the chaos.

However, there have been frequent attacks on commercial vessels with little or no link to Israel – forcing global sea traffic to halt operations in the region and sending shipping prices soaring.

Houthi attacks in the Red Sea increased 50 per cent between November and December.

Their slogan is “Death to America, Death to Israel, curse the Jews and victory to Islam”.

And the rebel group’s leaders have previously pledged the attacks will continue until Israel stops its devastating offensive inside Gaza.

On Thursday night, explosions rang out in Yemen and President Biden and PM Rishi Sunak struck over 60 Houthi targets. 

HMS Diamond shot down a barrage of drones fired by the Houthis at the British warship on Tuesday night

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HMS Diamond shot down a barrage of drones fired by the Houthis at the British warship on Tuesday night

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