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Pentagon Concerned About Cost of Houthi Attacks

A Houthi fighter stands on the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. Houthi Military Media
A Houthi fighter stands on the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. Houthi Military Media

On Tuesday, as the Islamic Republic of Iran-backed Houthi terrorist group continued to target commercial and United States naval ships in the Red Sea, Pentagon officials are increasingly alarmed at the growing cost of keeping naval ships safe.

Following the Oct. 7 massacre against the Jewish state of Israel by Hamas, the Houthis have launched numerous drones and missiles in the Red Sea toward Israel, American naval ships, and commercial ships.

In response to such attacks, the U.S. Navy has destroyed around 38 drones and multiple missiles in the Red Sea over the past months. Over the weekend, the USS Carney destroyer intercepted 14 one-way attack drones.

Pentagon officials speaking to Politico said the cost of using expensive naval missiles to eliminate Houthi drones is a growing concern.

"The cost offset is not on our side," said one Pentagon official.

Pentagon officials have not confirmed the types of weapons used or the range at which the drones are being intercepted.

Former Pentagon officials and experts say the weapon that would significantly help the U.S. Navy would be a Standard Missile-2: a medium-range air defense weapon that can reach up to 92 to 130 nautical miles.

In addition to using a Standard Missile-2, experts say the U.S. destroyers could also utilize its 5-inch guns with air-bust rounds against drones and other missile projectiles.

Defense experts estimate that the Houthi attack drones cost around $2,000, while the Iranian-Shahed-136 drone is estimated at $20,000.

Pentagon officials note that destroyers are limited in the number of missiles they can shoot before needing to port and reload.

This week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the formation of a new maritime task force known as Operation Prosperity Guardian to counter the terrorist attacks, which contains nine partner nations, including the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain.

"These attacks are reckless, dangerous, and they violate international law," Austin said to reporters in Israel ahead of the announcement.

"This is not just a U.S. issue, this is an international problem, and it deserves an international response.”

In response to the U.S. actions, the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy has created a new voluntary unit to carry out marine military operations in the Persian Gulf.

Houthi leaders have stated that the attacks in the Red Sea are in support of Hamas as Israel continues its ground incursion operation into the Gaza Strip to eradicate the terrorist organization.

Related Story: Who are the Houthis?

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