US to Help UAE Replenish Missile Defense Systems to Intercept Houthi Attacks

The US is escalating its role in the Yemen war

Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, said Thursday that Washington will help replenish the UAE’s missile defense systems after recent attacks by Yemen’s Houthis.

“We will help with replenishment of interceptors. And we’ll do everything we can to assist UAE in defending themselves,” McKenzie told Reuters after a trip to Abu Dhabi.

A source told Reuters that the UAE had privately asked the US to replenish its THAAD and Patriot missile systems. Last week, the State Department approved an arms sale for the UAE to buy $65 million in replacement parts for its missile defense systems, including the Patriot and THAAD.

The US has responded to recent Houthi attacks on the UAE by escalating its role in the war in Yemen. This support is framed as “defensive” in nature, but the Houthis wouldn’t be attacking the UAE if not for Abu Dhabi’s role in the Saudi-led coalition that has been waging war on Yemen since 2015. UAE-backed militants on the ground in Yemen have made recent gains against the Houthis.

The US has deployed the USS Cole and a squadron of F-22 fighter jets to the UAE. McKenzie suggested that the US could step up its surveillance of Yemen so the UAE can hit Houthi drones or missiles before they are launched.

McKenzie said the US is “very limited” on its “ISR” in Yemen, an acronym for military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. When asked if the US could step up its ISR in Yemen to help the Emirates, McKenzie said, “Anything is possible.”

The Saudi-led coalition responded to the Houthi attacks by launching a major escalation of its air war in Yemen. As a result, January was the most violent month for civilians in Yemen since 2016. On Wednesday, President Biden spoke with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and pledged US support for Riyadh against the Houthis.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.