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German frigate “Hessen” shoots down Huthi drones

Caption: Frigate "Hessen"

The “Hessen” frigate deployed by Germany to the Red Sea as part of the EU’s Aspides mission has deployed its weapons for the first time to protect the sea route.

Just last week, the EU decided to launch the EUNAVFOR Aspides mission to protect shipping in the Red Sea from attacks by the Islamist Houthi militia from Yemen. The mission has now become serious for the German frigate “Hessen”. [ds_preview]

On the evening of 27 February, the “Hessen” was deployed for the first time to defend against a drone. “The crew initiated defensive measures in accordance with the rules of engagement and successfully fought the unmanned aerial vehicle,” the navy reported. A short time later, a second drone approached the frigate. This target was also successfully destroyed, according to the report. According to the information provided, there was no personal injury or damage to property on the frigate. The “Hessen” is specially designed for convoy protection and maritime surveillance.

According to the US Army Central Command, a total of five “one-way unmanned attack aircraft (OWA)” were shot down by the Houthis in the Red Sea between 9:50 pm and 10:55 pm (Sanaa time). US aircraft “and a coalition warship” were involved. “CENTCOM forces identified these UAVs originating from Huthi-controlled areas in Yemen and determined that they pose an imminent threat to commercial vessels, the U.S. Navy, and coalition ships in the region,” it said.

The Iranian-backed Houthis have been attacking international shipping in the Red Sea from Yemen for several months. The Islamist militia sees itself and Iran as part of the “axis of resistance” against Israel and justifies its attacks with the Israeli military operation against the terrorist organisation Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The EU has decided to launch the EUNAVFOR Aspides military operation to protect shipping, and the Bundestag approved the mandate for the German Navy on February 23. The frigate “Hessen” had already set sail for the Red Sea at the beginning of February in anticipation of the deployment order.

Einsatzgebiet EUNAVFOR Aspides

The USA has been deploying warships there since the end of 2023 and has also been attacking Houthi targets from the air together with the UK since January as part of the Prosperity Guardian initiative. So far, the militia has not been deterred from threatening the important sea route through the Bab al-Mandab strait towards the Suez Canal. Many shipping companies choose the detour via the Cape of Good Hope instead of the route through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. The mandate of the EU mission applies to the Strait of Bab al-Mandab, the Strait of Hormuz and the international waters of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. The aim of the mission is to accompany commercial shipping and protect it in the event of an emergency. However, the Houthi militia must not be pursued proactively.

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