The Missile War in Yemen

A key aspect of Yemen's civil war  has been the extensive use of ballistic missiles, far more than any other conflict in recent history. With the assistance of Iran, Yemen’s Houthi rebels have fired hundreds of ballistic missiles, along with cruise missiles and drones, to strike Arab coalition bases, population centers, and infrastructure. Consequently, the war in Yemen has also featured the most combat uses of modern air and missile defenses of any conflict in history. This ongoing duel between Houthi missiles and coalition defenses has offered a rare glimpse of the utility and limitations of ballistic missiles as a military tool. The conflict has also illustrated the kinds of difficulties that missile defense faces on the modern battlefield, and reinforced lessons about the difficulties of aerial “Scud-hunting” operations and the challenges of preventing the flow of missiles and other weapons from determined proliferators.  

This report lays out the first comprehensive review of the Yemen missile war. 

This report is made possible by general support to CSIS. No direct sponsorship contributed to this report.

Ian Williams
Fellow, International Security Program and Deputy Director, Missile Defense Project
Shaan Shaikh
Associate Director and Associate Fellow, Missile Defense Project