Houthi attacks: US stresses commitment to UAE security with additional military support

Fifth generation fighters and a specialist anti-missile vessel on their way to Abu Dhabi after attacks

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The US will send fighter jets and a warship to support the UAE, following three recent attacks by the Houthi terrorist group.

Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said fifth generation aircraft and the USS Cole would help to tackle the threat from the Iran-backed Yemeni rebels, reaffirming his country's commitment to the UAE's security.

Mr Austin's remarks were made in a statement issued on Tuesday night, following a phone call to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

It was the Emirati surface-to-air missiles that actually engaged the targets
John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary

The USS Cole is equipped with the Aegis defence system, used to shoot down high-speed missiles.

Fifth generation is the term used to describe Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II aircraft. Officials did not say which would be sent.

Mr Austin said the USS Cole would link up with the UAE Navy at sea before docking in Abu Dhabi.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said: “The secretary reviewed a range of actions the Department of Defence is taking to support the UAE.

"These include continuing to provide early warning intelligence, collaborating on air defence, and sending the US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Cole to partner with the UAE Navy before making a port call in Abu Dhabi.

US: It was Emirati missiles that destroyed Houthi rockets

US: It was Emirati missiles that destroyed Houthi rockets

“The secretary also informed the Crown Prince of his decision to deploy fifth generation fighter aircraft to assist the UAE against the current threat and as a clear signal that the United States stands with the UAE as a long-standing strategic partner.”

Mr Kirby confirmed that US forces stationed in Abu Dhabi fired Patriot interceptor missiles at the Houthi projectiles used in one of the attacks.

“My understanding, with respect to this particular attack, is that the inbound missile was engaged by Emirati surface-to-air missiles. They're the ones that actually engaged this missile,” he said.

“The US Patriots were fired, but it was the Emirati surface-to-air missiles that actually engaged the targets.”

Mr Kirby said the US takes its defence relationship with the Emiratis seriously.

"And, again, we're not going to rule out additional steps. As I said yesterday, we're constantly looking at this to make sure that we're best postured to help defend our interests and the interest of our partners in the Emirates, [they] are a terrific strong partner in the region."

An attack on January 17 killed three oil company workers — Hardeep Singh, Hardev Singh and Mamoor Khan — and injured six others.

Missiles fired at the UAE by the Houthis on January 24 and January 31 were intercepted and did not lead to any casualties or damage.

The US is reviewing a range of policy options after the attacks on the UAE, including designating the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organisation.

Updated: February 03, 2022, 5:07 AM