Details remain scarce at the moment, but news reports and the photos above purportedly show an Islamic State attack on an Egyptian Navy ship off the coast of Rafah. The Islamic State has been extremely active near and on the Sinai Peninsula, with a massive string of coordinated attacks occurring just weeks ago leaving over 100 dead.
The Jerusalem Post reports the Islamic State’s Egyptian affliate, Sinai Province, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The move from suicide bombers and gun attacks to a guided missile strike on a military vessel is a far leap and could signal a new level of sophistication of weaponry used by IS related groups in the region. As far as what type of weapon we are seeing in these images? At first glance it looks like a anti-tank type missile, such as the prevalent optically and wire guided TOW, although the blast looks quite large for such a light anti-armor weapon. Nonetheless, it is likely some form of heavier guided anti-tank missile.
Anti-ship missiles are known to be in the hands of extremist groups in the region for some time. In 2006 a Sa’ar 5 Class Israeli Corvette was struck by a Hezbollah owned C-802 anti-ship missile off the coast of Lebanon. This signaled a new age of warfare when it came to the sophistication of non-state actors weaponry.
We will update this post as more information becomes available.
Update: 10:10AM EST- Ship targeted in attack still smoldering. What Naval vessel was involved remains unknown.
Update: 11:28AM EST- I think I have tracked down the type of vessel struck in the attack. It appears to be one of the patrol vessels built by U.S. Manufacturer Swiftships, a modern patrol boat family that is being used by the Egyptian Coast Guard. It looks like Egypt has bought Swiftships designs in a few different sizes and configurations. From the grainy images we have at our disposal, this may be a derivative of their 26 meter version. You can see more at Switfship’s website.
Photo via Swiftships.com
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.