Iranian-backed Houthi rebels launch two attempted attacks using AShM’s on the USS Mason who was passing through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. Two Chinese-built C-802s (NATO reporting name CSS-N-8 Saccade) missiles were fired from the Yemen coast in each attack, USS Mason used it’s never before battle tested AEGIS combat system to successfully defend the ship. According to USNI News during the second attack, the system launched two Standard Missile-2s (SM-2s) and a single Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM) to defeat the incoming missiles whose intend target was the USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15).
The first missile hit the water, with the USN saying it “employed onboard defensive measures” which could mean the Destroyer used its advanced electronic warfare capabilities to lead the missile out of harm’s way while intercepting the other missile with its kinetic defensive systems.
The strikes by the U.S. into Yemen mark the first time the U.S. has actively engaged the Houthi rebels. So far it has only acted in a supportive role helping out the Saudi’s military’s operations.
While it this incident did put sailors lives at risk it did have a positive effect. Having multi-billion dollar system being engaged in a real world scenario is rarer than it seems. Having this system be validated in the true test of combat lets the U.S. know that it can go into the heat of battle and count on it to save lives.
Now this is where the money comes in, U.S. now has one of the only complex missile defense systems that’s battle tested. When countries buy expensive system such as these they love to know that they will work when they need them most and so do the sailors who are protected by them. The U.S. has exported the system to Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, Spanish Navy, Royal Norwegian Navy, The Royal Australian Navy, and The Republic of Korea Navy, but now many other countries will likely consider purchasing this system for their own ships. There’s also a military plus side to this as well, the AEGIS system can work with AEGIS equipped ships no matter the ship’s owner to more effectively take down threats and share data on targets. The Yemen Houthi rebels just handed the U.S. a gold mine and they didn’t even know it.