A Swarm of drones – the modern artillery in the Aegean

A Swarm of drones - the modern artillery in the Aegean 1

The Saudi-led coalition said it had intercepted and destroyed an armed drone and an explosive-laden boat south of the Red Sea.

Since the spring of 2020, Houthi drone attacks have increased, and the Shi’ite militia has experimented with swarms of drones in a postmodern version of 19th-century artillery.

In March 2020, during its voyage to the Yemeni coastal city of Aden, an oil tanker was attacked by four floating drones, at least one of which was loaded with explosives.

The attempt failed, but demonstrated the ease with which the Houthis could convert small fishing boats so that they could be launched against ships.

Not only did this type of attack increase, but it also expanded as the Houthis exported this tactic to the Arabian Sea.

Lacking naval forces and wanting to make sailing ships that supply the forces of Saudi Arabia and its allies unsafe, the Houthis turned to this method, which does not require special technical knowledge.

In the past, the Houthis have hit such ships using Iranian-made missiles, or assembled by themselves with Iranian materials.

Image result for houthis drones
The Houthis.

On February 23, the Saudi-led coalition said its ships in the Red Sea intercepted a suicide drone trying to hit an unspecified ship near the port city of Hodeidah.

A few weeks later, on March 3, the coalition reported the interception of a swarm of motor boats trying to hit an oil tanker near the port of Niston in the Arabian Sea.

The Houthis use swarms of drones

While the attack failed, it represented several changes to Houthi tactics.

The failed attack is the first known example of a tactic used by the Houthis outside the Red Sea.

Given the distance from the rebel-held area, it was not clear where the boats started.

In addition, the March 3 attempt also marked the first use of a new drone design.

As mentioned in Forbes, the new design is very similar to regular fishing boats.

This is a change from previous types when the Houthis used speedboats, such as the so-called blow fish.

Of the four vessels that approached the oil tanker, only one reportedly contained explosives.

Using a swarm of these floating drones disguised as fishing boats, it makes it harder for ships to spot the threat.

In addition, hiding the explosives in a single floating drone makes it difficult to identify and therefore neutralize.

Days later, Saudi Arabia and its allies said they had destroyed six suicide drones in the port of As-Salif with airstrikes.

As part of a wider campaign in the region, the Saudis also claimed to have destroyed drone and naval assembly facilities in the area.

This is not the first time they have reported air strikes on drones.

Last June, the coalition said it had destroyed nine suicide drones in the waters of As-Khalif.

Saudi officials commented that the ships “intended to harm international shipping.”

Low level technology

From 1916 the first drone experiments began, with the aim of using them against the German helmsmen (Zeppelin) who were bombing allied cities.

By 1918 these experiments were successful, but the war ended and they were not used.

These first drones were piloted with an autopilot equipped with gyroscopes.

In the 1920s drones became remote controlled via radio signals.

Since then, of course, technology has made great strides and has become accessible to people who do not have a university degree.

This is the message of the Houthi drone strikes: With few means, people living in one of the world’s poorest countries can and do build their modern artillery, threatening the militarily power of Saudi Arabia.

The question arises effortlessly that a guerrilla group can build aerial and floating drones, but Greece cannot.

A Swarm of drones - the modern artillery in the Aegean 2
Houthi drone boat.

It should be noted that decades ago Greece manufactured flying targets for the needs of the Shooting Range of Crete through 3SIGMA! In other words, Greece was one of the pioneers but has become a runner today.

Denial of access, denial of area

The truth is that in recent decades various private initiatives have been presented for the design and construction of drones, but so far they have not received the attention of the state and especially the armed forces.

This is despite the fact that they are obviously a power multiplier. Moreover, the efforts of the Turkish war industry have yielded impressive results.

In the closed Aegean Sea, the construction of floating drones can be an economical solution for the creation of a wider network of denial of access and denial of area (A2/AD -Anti-Access/Area Denial).

Flocks of cheap floating drones offer a number of advantages.

The Aegean is crossed daily by thousands of vessels of all types and sizes, making it very difficult to locate the threat.

In fact, if these vessels are modified small fishing or recreational craft, it is impossible to identify the threat.

The technology is now accessible to everyone and remote control using cameras allows the use of civilian drones even from mobile phones.

Turning a small boat into a remote-controlled bomb requires minimal modifications, mainly mechanisms and a simple chip with the appropriate software.

In addition, the thousands of islets and rocky islets scattered throughout the sea offer points from which swarms of drones can sail from different directions to attack enemy ships, causing a saturation on the enemy’s defense.

In fact, in such an environment, with little money and with already existing means, the Navy can revive the artillery in modern terms and repeat the exploits of Kanaris and the other arsonists of 1821.