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Middle East crisis: What military firepower does Britain have in the Gulf? | World News

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British forces have joined the US in targeting sites used by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen in retaliation drone and missile attacks on commercial shipping since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

In the wake of the strikes, Sky News profiles the military hardware and weapons the UK has at its disposal in the region.

Follow live: Footage shows moment RAF jet strikes – as Houthis vow to retaliate’

HMS Diamond

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Diamond’s sleek lines are designed for stealth at sea

The Type 45 destroyer has already been engaged in downing drones and missiles fired by Houthis against civilian ships in the Red Sea.

Diamond’s sleek lines are designed for stealth at sea, appearing virtually invisible on enemy radar.

HMS Diamond, which has cutting-edge military sensors to detect and track multiple targets, is equipped with 48 Sea Viper missiles – long-range, precision weapons capable of reaching supersonic speeds of Mach 4.5 and each costing more than £1m.

The weapon system can launch eight missiles in under 10 seconds and guide up to 16 missiles simultaneously.

Other armaments include a 4.5in main gun, 30mm cannon, 20mm rapid-fire Gatling guns, anti-ship Harpoon missiles and an anti-torpedo defence system.

The destroyer, which can reach 30 knots and has a range of 7,000 nautical miles, is equipped with a distinctive SAMPSON radar system – a large, spherical surveillance device that can detect and track threats from over 250 miles away, as well as guide friendly missiles.

Unlike conventional radars, it can perform several functions at once, has immense range and accuracy and is immune to enemy jamming.

It also has a flight deck for a single helicopter.

HMS Lancaster

HMS Lancaster
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HMS Lancaster is equipped to deal with virtually any threat

The Type 23 frigate, which has a top speed of 28 knots and a range of 7,800 nautical miles, is the core of the Royal Navy’s frontline fleet because of its all-round operational effectiveness.

Originally designed for anti-submarine warfare during the Cold War, its technology and weaponry has since been updated to handle virtually any threat.

More on Yemen strikes:
Analysis: A busy shipping lane can’t become Wild West
Analysis: Strikes on Yemen could trigger regional war
Who are the Houthis?

The warship’s 4.5-inch gun can provide artillery bombardment of shore targets, firing up to 24 high explosive shells per minute (each weighing 40kg) up to 18 miles away.

It is also equipped with Harpoon long-range anti-ship missiles and the cutting-edge Sea Ceptor air defence system, which can guard an area of 500 square miles and engage multiple targets at the same time.

HMS Richmond, another Type 23 frigate, is also on its way to the region.

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US and British strikes hit Yemen

RAF Typhoons

Although not based in the Gulf, four of the multi-role combat aircraft, flying from Cyprus, were used to carry out strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen.

The long-range mission was made possible by a Voyager air refuelling tanker.

Capable of reaching a top speed of Mach 1.8, the FGR4 Typhoon has a maximum altitude of 55,000ft.

From brakes off it can reach Mach 1.5 at 35,000ft in less than two minutes 30 seconds.

Armed with a 27mm Mauser cannon it is capable of range of missiles and precision-guided bombs.

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Houthi target hit by RAF in Yemen

Paveway IV guided bombs

The highly accurate precision weapon used by the Typhoons in the attacks on Houthi facilities are capable of destroying the majority of targets while minimising collateral damage.

The RAF’s go-to weapon has been in operational use since 2008.

Costing about £30,000 each and weighing 226kg, the Paveway has four main parts – the guidance system in the front, a 500lb warhead in the middle (which can penetrate concrete) and, at the back, the tail section guides the bomb, with a smart fuse to control how it detonates.

GPS is one way the bomb can be guided to its target, but as a dual-mode weapon it can also be directed using a laser.



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