Flight Performance Analysis of the Samad Attack Drones Operated by Houthi Armed Forces

Mark Voskuijl, Thomas Dekkers, Ralph Savelsberg, "Flight Performance Analysis of the Samad Attack Drones Operated by Houthi Armed Forces," Science & Global Security 28, no. 3 (2020): 113-134

In recent years, there has been a large increase in the use of uncrewed attack aircraft, or attack drones, in the Yemen conflict. At the same time, the flight endurance and payload capabilities of these uncrewed aerial vehicles seem to have increased significantly. This article presents a flight performance analysis of the Samad aircraft family operated by Ansar Allah, the Houthi rebel movement. The analysis is based on information available in the public domain and accounts for modeling uncertainties, and terrain under weather conditions typical for Yemen and Saudi Arabia. With only limited data available in the form of images, the analysis method assesses the flight performance of fixed-wing attack aircraft with high aspect ratio wings and powered by piston engines and propellers. Results demonstrate that it is highly unlikely that the Samad-2 version could reach strategic locations in Saudi Arabia when launched from Houthi-controlled territory. The analysis shows that Samad-3, however, can achieve a flight range in excess of 1800 km, bringing Riyadh and oil installations near the Persian Gulf into reach. The results of the study can be used to predict the locations from which the Samad UAV can be deployed in an attack. Furthermore, it gives insight into the increasing threat of this type of UAV when employed by non-state actors. The methods and tools developed in this study can be used to analyze the capabilities of other UAV with similar configurations.

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