A Review of Houthis’ New “Hypersonic” Missile

A Review of Houthis’ New “Hypersonic” Missile

By Kaan Azman

Houthis have released a video of their new missile, dubbed Hadim 2, allegedly a hypersonic missile used against a cargo ship in the Arabian Sea. Houthis claim that the missile is a locally developed hypersonic missile. However, there are differences regarding how the missile performs and the image Houthis are trying to invoke. The missile’s overall form and launch sequence already pointed out a short-range ballistic missile type. After a certain range regime, short-range ballistic missiles can reach hypersonic speeds. 

Houthis can be regarded as exploiting this feature for propaganda, as there is a major concern in the world against hypersonic weapons. However, hypersonic speed isn’t enough to threaten ships that will be covered shortly. The missile’s layout suggests that it is a derivative of either one of the Zolfaghar or Fateh-110 SRBMs manufactured by Iran, with the difference of no extra triangular fins at the rear. 

This wouldn’t be a surprise as Houthis make regular use of Iranian weapons and technology for their arsenal. Iran sometimes classified two missiles as anti-ship ballistic missiles due to their terminal manoeuvre capability, thanks to a manoeuvrable re-entry vehicle (MaRV). Thus, the missile is likely capable of conducting terminal manoeuvres, as is the case with the two similar missiles. However, there is a limit on how much the missile can adjust its trajectory.

Additionally, a seeker is needed for use against moving targets, which leaves a question mark on Hadim 2 as the missile isn’t seen enough. Even when there is a seeker, the missile has to be continually updated in the midcourse to make its approach on the approximate location of the target. This requires a strong ISR and networking capability, which the Houthis lack.

 Ballistic missile attacks on ships by Houthis aren’t new, as there have been multiple reported cases in the Red Sea with missiles landing hundreds of meters away from ships at most. Thus, despite the additional manoeuvring capability and hypersonic speed, the missile doesn’t represent the kind of leap in threat that Houthis want people to think.