LONDON — UK Royal Navy vessels are unable to attack Houthi positions in Yemen because they lack the necessary missiles, it has been revealed, in what one former defense chief called a “scandal.”
Britain has joined America in conducting operations against the Houthis in a bid to halt attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, but the US Navy has had to carry out the majority of strikes on the Yemeni mainland, the Daily Telegraph reported.
A UK defense source told the newspaper that HMS Diamond, the Royal Navy destroyer stationed in the Red Sea, lacks “the capability to fire to land targets,” meaning the UK's sole source of offensive capability comes from Royal Air Force jets stationed at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, around 1,500 miles away.
HMS Diamond, the source said, has instead been involved in downing ” Houthi drones targeting shipping in the Red Sea,” with the only functioning weapons systems on UK destroyers being fixed artillery guns.
US Navy destroyers, meanwhile, have the capacity to fire Tomahawk guided missiles, with a range of 1,500 miles.
A former senior defense chief told the Daily Telegraph: “It's clearly a scandal and completely unsatisfactory. This is what happens when the Royal Navy is forced to make crucial decisions which can affect capability.
“The UK is now having to fly RAF jets thousands of miles to do the job of what a surface-to-surface missile can do.”
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, head of the UK Armed Forces,…