WATCH: US Patriot, THAAD Missiles Intercept Rockets Over Abu Dhabi

January 25, 2022Matt White

A series of videos appear to capture launches and apparent hits by US-made anti-missile systems at or near Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates early Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. US Army photo and screenshot via Facebook. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.

US Patriot missiles and related air-defense systems in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, have intercepted several incoming ballistic missiles from Yemen, and videos around the internet have captured some of the defense systems’ direct hits.

Though none of the videos were confirmed by the Pentagon, they all appear to show the same incident of two rockets launching into low clouds over Abu Dhabi near Al Dhafra Air Base and striking targets in the early hours of Monday, Jan. 24. A spokesperson for US Central Command said that roughly 2,000 Americans were stationed at Al Dhafra and confirmed that, early Monday morning, both US and UAE air-defense units defended against an air attack launched by Houthi rebels in nearby Yemen. The attack’s pre-dawn timing lead to clear videos from the ground of the missiles streaking through the sky above Abu Dhabi.

A video shared to the Facebook board Air Force amn/nco/snco of what appears to be the launch of anti-missile interceptors:

According to US Central Command, both US Patriot missiles and US-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missiles were used in the shootdown. Though US-made, the THAAD batteries are owned and operated by UAE forces but maintained by American companies.

“U.S. forces at Al Dhafra Air Base, near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), engaged two inbound missile threats with multiple Patriot interceptors coincident to efforts by the armed forces of the UAE in the early morning hours of Jan. 24,” a CENTCOM spokesperson said. “The combined efforts successfully prevented both missiles from impacting the base. There were no U.S. casualties.”

A video shared by journalist Benjamin Zaid: The tweet reads, “Scenes taken at approximately 4:30 in the morning of what appears to be an attempt to intercept a missile attack in the vicinity of the Shahama area near the UAE capital #أبوظبي .”

It’s unclear whether the videos capture US Patriots or UAE THAAD rockets in action, though one of the videos appears to have been taken by an American and was posted to a popular Air Force-related Facebook group. Both missile systems are designed to shoot down incoming ballistic missiles. Patriot missiles are designed to hit smaller, lower-altitude weapons, while the newer THAAD systems are designed to combat higher-flying, medium-range missiles.

“We are certainly going to be looking into the possibility that this [attack] was directed at our forces,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a briefing Monday. “It would be foolish for us not to assume that there was a threat to our people.”

CENTCOM officials said personnel at Al Dhafra spent about an hour in bunkers around the attack.

patriot intercept abu dhabi
Army Spc. Justin Witting, a Patriot launching station enhanced operator-maintainer from Portland, Maine, stands in front of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, Feb. 6, 2019. US Army photo by Capt. Adan Cazarez.

The Monday attack came just days after a Jan. 17 attack on a UAE oil facility that killed three. Houthi rebels based in Yemen claimed responsibility for that attack as well. The Houthis have used medium-range ballistic missiles in the past against targets in Saudi Arabia, but the recent attacks are the first known attacks the Houthis have made against the United Arab Emirates and the first time that THAAD missiles have been used in combat.

Yahya Sare’e, a spokesperson for the Yemeni forces, claimed responsibility for the Monday attack, according to The New York Times. An earlier tweet from the spokesperson seemed to warn of impending attacks.

Monday’s attack was, notably, the first time the Houthis have launched missiles at spots where Americans are known to be. Sare’e had tweeted an apparent threat a day before the Monday attack.

Read Next: US, UK Send Anti-Tank Missiles to Ukraine as Russian Army Masses

Matt White
Matt White

Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.

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