RAF Tornado in Cyprus
British forces have continued in the fight against the ISIL terrorist network.
Royal Air Force Tornado and Reaper aircraft have flown daily armed reconnaissance missions, as part of the international coalition’s air campaign to assist Iraqi ground forces.
In the most recent UK military engagement, one of our Reapers provided close air support to an Iraqi unit in combat with ISIL terrorists in Diyala province on Friday 13 February. The Reaper spotted a machine-gun team firing on the Iraqi troops, and conducted a successful attack with a Hellfire missile. A second machine gun then opened fire on the Iraqis, and the Reaper conducted a further strike with another Hellfire.
In northern Iraq, a team of British military instructors continues to provide training for members of the Kurdish peshmerga, whose recent offensives have seen a string of successes against ISIL terrorists to the north and west of Mosul.
Previous air strikes
2 February: Early on Monday, Tornado GR4s provided close air support to Iraqi army operations approximately 70 kilometres north west of Baghdad, and dropped 2 Paveway IVs on ISIL positions engaged in a firefight with the Iraqi troops.
4 February: In the afternoon, a pair of RAF Tornado GR4s conducted an armed reconnaissance patrol to assist the Iraqi armed forces in their offensive operations against ISIL around Bayji. Two ISIL armoured vehicles were identified in a building and were attacked with 2 Paveway IV precision guided bombs, scoring direct hits.
6 February: In the morning an RAF Tornado GR4 patrol worked closely with a coalition surveillance platform to provide overwatch for Kurdish peshmerga, who were engaged in close combat with ISIL – also known as Da’ish – terrorists near Mosul. When an ISIL mortar position opened fire on the pehsmerga, the GR4s were able to respond with a Brimstone missile which scored a direct hit.
7 February: Early on Saturday morning, another Tornado pair patrolled western Iraq, near Al Qa’im, close to the Syrian border. Two heavily armed ISIL trucks were identified and attacked with Brimstone missiles. The GR4s also located an ISIL armoured personnel carrier and conducted a further Brimstone attack; initial analysis indicates that all three vehicles were destroyed.
9 February: An armed reconnaissance patrol by a Reaper over western Iraq spotted a checkpoint manned by ISIL, denying the local population any freedom of movement. Having checked the area for any risk to civilians, the Reaper’s crew attacked the checkpoint with a Hellfire missile.
Military support is just one part of the UK government’s actions to defeat ISIL – we are also countering the terrorist network’s finances, and restricting the flow of foreign fighters, and have provided vital humanitarian relief to help those affected by ISIL’s brutality.
The RAF contribution includes Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, which, like the Tornados, provide reconnaissance and close air support to the Iraqi ground forces; a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker; a Sentry airborne surveillance and command aircraft; and air transport aircraft as necessary.
Having previously provided military equipment to the Iraqi forces, Britain plans to gift improvised explosive device (IED) detectors to help the Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers protect themselves against the numerous improvised explosive devices on which ISIL are increasingly forced back upon.
In the Gulf, the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless is operating in direct support of the US Navy’s aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, which provides a significant part of the coalition’s air effort.