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28 May 15. Yemen’s Ansar Allah unveils its rocket power. Allah, the Yemeni Zaidi group that a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia is currently trying to defeat, has unveiled ‘homemade’ rockets for the first time as well as a BM-27 Uragan multiple rocket launcher (MRL) under its control. The Piercing Star (Al-Najim al-Thaqib) rockets were seen for the first time in footage broadcast on 26 May by Al-Masirah, a television news station that supports Ansar Allah. Al-Masirah reported that the Piercing Star 1 is 3 m long, has a range of 45 km and a 50 kg payload. The larger Piercing Star 2 is 5 m long, has a range of 75 km and a 75 kg payload. Both types have fixed stabilisation fins and are launched from rails rather than tubes. Al-Masirah showed the two types being fired from both static and mobile launchers, including one where the rails were attached to the bed of a dump truck. It claimed both types were being used against military targets inside Saudi Arabia. On the same day, Al-Masirah also showed footage of a 220 mm BM-27 Uragan with an Ansar Allah banner on its cab firing four rockets. The BM-27, which is the largest calibre MRL in service with the Yemeni military, has a range of 34-36 km and can use a variety of warheads, including anti-tank submunitions that can be dispersed over a large area. Pro-Ansar Allah sources are claiming that the Saudi provinces of Jizan and Najran are being hit hard by the group’s retaliatory rocket attacks, but the Saudi authorities are covering up the damage being inflicted. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 May 15. Indonesia conducts first test firing of Exocet from Bung Tomo corvette. The Indonesian Navy (Tentera Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) has fired an Exocet anti-ship missile from a Bung Tomo-class corvette for the first time. The test, in which a MM40 Block 2 version of the missile was fired from first-of-class KRI Bung Tomo (357), was conducted on 28 May in the Java Sea and witnessed by senior navy leaders, including TNI-AL chief of staff Vice Admiral Ade Supandi. A source close to the TNI-AL told IHS Jane’s that the missile was fired at the lead Kupang-class 43 m landing craft utility (LCU) ship, KRI Kupang (582), which was decommissioned in May.
“We hope that the successful test firing of the missile will be a deterrence to both state and non-state actors who intend to violate Indonesia’s territorial sovereignty,” the TNI-AL said in a statement.
According to IHS Jane’s Fighting Ships , the Bung Tomo-class corvettes are armed with one Otobreda 76 mm Super Rapid gun, two MSI Defence 30 mm guns, and six (two triple) 324 mm torpedo tubes. The ships are also equipped with four (two twin) launchers for Exocet missiles and 16 vertical launching system (VLS) cells for defence against airborne threats. With the test completed successfully, Bung Tomo will now be prepared to head for the Middle East for peacekeeping operations as part of the Maritime Task Force United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (MTF UNIFIL). Indonesia has been supporting the peacekeeping operation since 2009 by sending the TNI-AL’s Diponegoro (SIGMA)-class corvettes in rotation. Bung Tomo will be the first corvette in class dispatched for MTF UNIFIL. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
27 May 15. No UK Spear Cap decision on F-35 until 2018. A decision on whether to purchase a homegrown missile or buy a US-developed rival to equip British F-35B combat jets with a medium-range strike weapon may not be made until at least 2018, according to the Ministry of Defence. The British are studying whether to push ahead with development work under a long-running assessment phase agreement with Europe’s top missile maker, MBDA, or purchase the more mature small diameter bomb II (SDBII) being offered by Raytheon to meet the Selective Precision Effects At Range 3 (Spear Cap 3)