The level of Royal Air Force involvement over Syria has been released. The data shows 43 airstrikes, carried out by MQ-9’s, Tornado GR.4’s, and Eurofighters, since Operation Shader was extended into Syria in December 2015. If anything it helps paint a better picture of the scale of their involvement. Could they do more? It’s hard to tell with so little ground assets involved to help identify potential targets. What do you think?
The UK’s participation in the anti-Islamic State effort has been under way for 20 months, during which time it has carried out more than 800 airstrikes. This includes 760 in Iraq and 43 in Syria, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said on 24 May.
Although the Syrian strikes are markedly low, Fallon says the number of operations carried out by RAF aircraft in support of the effort is more than any other nation after the USA.
Meanwhile, figures released by the government on 29 April in response to a freedom of information request show the reliance the RAF has on the Eurofighter Typhoon in Iraq; an aircraft that was only deployed to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to support the expansion of Shader into Syria.
The UK has three combat types deployed to the Middle East: the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper unmanned air vehicle, the Panavia Tornado GR4 and the Typhoon.
Between January and March, RAF Reapers performed eight air strikes in Iraq and 12 in Syria. Its Tornados carried out 52 and 15, respectively, while the totals for the Typhoon were 104 and two. Raytheon Systems’ Paveway IV precision-guided bomb was the weapon of choice for the deployed Typhoon force, which released 252 during this time period, plus 26 rounds from the type’s Mauser 27mm cannon.
RAF Reapers released 47 Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles over both theatres, plus five GBU-12 laser-guided bombs. Tornados used 147 Paveway IVs and 42 MBDA Brimstone air-to-surface missiles, the data shows.