RAF Typhoon FGR4, 29 (R) Squadron, RAF Coningsby (Crown Copyright, 2018) [880]

RAF Keep Up Pressure on Islamic State

RAF Missions Continue Against Islamic State Fighters in Iraq and Syria

The Ministry of Defence has released the latest briefing on RAF operations against the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) in Iraq and Syria for 1 June to 18 July 2018 as part of Operation SHADER, the UK’s contribution to Operation Inherent Resolve. RAF Typhoon, Tornado and Reaper aircraft were deployed in a series of missions against terrorist targets throughout the Euphrates region.

On Friday 1st June a Typhoon flight employed a single Paveway IV to demolish a smaller command post in the Euphrates Valley.

An RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled over eastern Syria on Sunday 3 June. It provided surveillance support to a coalition air attack on a terrorist vehicle, then followed up with two attacks with its own Hellfire missiles against a further Daesh command post. Meanwhile, Typhoons used a Paveway IV to collapse the entrance to a terrorist tunnel.

A Reaper provided further close air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces in the Euphrates valley on Monday 4 June. An armed terrorist truck was reported to be to the north of Abu Kamal, and the Reaper’s crew were able to identify the vehicle, parked under cover in an attempt to conceal it, after a thorough search. A Hellfire missile destroyed the vehicle, with a number of subsequent secondary explosions as ammunition on the vehicle caught fire. The following day, another Reaper operated over eastern Syria, some ten miles east of Al Shadadi. A pair of Daesh terrorists were tracked on a motorcycle, and both were killed by a direct hit from a Hellfire.

Reaper operations east of Al Shadadi continued on Friday 8 June; a terrorist was tracked to a building where he joined forces with other extremists, allowing the building to be struck with a Hellfire. The Reaper’s crew then conducted a further successful attack with a Hellfire as Daesh fighters sought new positions after artillery fire destroyed their previous location. On Friday 9 June, a Reaper used a Hellfire to destroyed a pick-up truck armed with a 23mm gun, which had been concealed under trees east of Al Shadadi. Another Hellfire missile then dealt with a mortar in the same area, with a number of secondary explosions following the attack on its position. A further Reaper attack east of Al Shadadi was conducted on Sunday 10 June, when our aircraft observed a light machine-gun position being set up in an orchard; a Hellfire quickly dealt with the threat.

Intelligence had allowed the identification of a small cluster of Daesh locations hidden in the hills south of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. A flight of Typhoons were tasked with their destruction on Monday 11 June, and they delivered a simultaneous attack with Paveway IVs against a tunnel and a cave, then a further attack to destroy a bunker dug into the hillside. The following day, a Reaper was again in action east of Al Shadadi; its crew spotted a mortar hidden in trees and destroyed it with a direct hit from a Hellfire, whilst a coalition aircraft then conducted a successful strike on the building nearby where the terrorist team, who had been operating the mortar, were seen to be hiding.

Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, patrolled over eastern Syria on Monday 18 June. Daesh terrorists had been observed hiding an armoured truck inside a building to the west of the border with Iraq, and the Tornado flight was duly able to destroy the building, and the vehicle therein, with a single Paveway IV guided bomb.

Intelligence indicated that Daesh had a stockpile of weapons hidden inside a cave in a remote area of the western Iraqi desert; a pair of Paveway-armed Typhoon FGR4s therefore attacked on Wednesday 20 June, as part of the continuing effort to eradicate any attempts by the terrorists to resume operations within the country.

On Thursday 21 June, coalition forces operating against Daesh in the south of Syria were fired on by hostile positions, not believed to be held by Daesh. Although the coalition forces decided to withdraw to attempt to de-escalate the situation, one particular position continued to fire on them. As an act of collective self-defence, RAF Typhoons dropped a single Paveway IV on the position, which successfully removed the threat to our coalition partners.

A Reaper crew, flying an armed reconnaissance patrol over eastern Syria, close to the Iraqi border, on Saturday 23 June, were tasked to investigate reports of a Daesh mortar being fired. Using the aircraft’s advanced surveillance sensor suite, they were able to identify terrorists carrying mortar ammunition into a treeline where the weapon was concealed. One Hellfire missile killed the terrorists, a second destroyed the mortar position itself.

A Royal Air Force Reaper conducted an armed reconnaissance mission over the eastern borders of Syria on Thursday 5 July. A number of vehicles were seen and, after careful surveillance, identified as a refugee convoy. However, further down the road, a Daesh team was observed burying improvised explosive devices; given the threat these could pose to innocent traffic, an immediate attack was conducted using a Hellfire missile which put an end to the terrorists’ activities.

On Saturday 7 July, Typhoon FGR4s flew to northern Iraq, where a terrorist hide had been spotted, concealed in woodland on the bank of the Tigris to the north-west of Mosul. A single Paveway IV destroyed the site.

RAF aircraft continued to fly daily reconnaissance missions to identify potential Daesh activity, but did not need to engage a target until Wednesday 18 July. A cave in eastern Syria was confirmed as the location of a stockpile of terrorist weaponry, so a Reaper employed a GBU-12 guided bomb to deny Daesh access. The weapon scored a direct hit on the cave entrance and it was successfully collapsed.

Operational Summary, June-July 2018

Friday 1 June – Typhoons hit a command post in eastern Syria.

Sunday 3 June – a Reaper attacked another command post in eastern Syria, whilst Typhoons collapsed the entrance to a terrorist tunnel.

Monday 4 June – a Reaper destroyed an armed terrorist truck concealed under cover in eastern Syria.

Tuesday 5 June – a Reaper killed two terrorists on a motorcycle in eastern Syria.

Friday 8 June – a Reaper demolished a Daesh-held building in eastern Syria, and struck terrorists in the open.

Saturday 9 June – a Reaper knocked out both an armed terrorist truck and a mortar in eastern Syria.

Sunday 10 June – a Reaper eliminated a light machine-gun position in eastern Syria.

Monday 11 June – Typhoons attacked a Daesh-occupied cave, tunnel and bunker in northern Iraq.

Tuesday 12 June – a Reaper destroyed a terrorist mortar in eastern Syria.

Monday 18 June – Tornados destroyed an armoured truck concealed inside a building in eastern Syria.

Wednesday 20 June – Typhoons attacked a cave containing stockpiled weapons, in western Iraq.

Thursday 21 June – Typhoons bombed a hostile position which persisted in firing on coalition forces in southern Syria.

Saturday 23 June – a Reaper eliminated a Daesh mortar team spotted firing in eastern Syria.

Thursday 5 July – a Reaper struck a terrorist team planting improvised explosive devices in eastern Syria.

Saturday 7 July – Typhoons bombed a Daesh hide in northern Iraq.

Wednesday 18 July – a Reaper sealed off a cave containing stockpiled weapons in eastern Syria.

Source: MOD

Image: a Typhoon FGR4 aircraft, flown by 29 (R) Squadron from RAF Coningsby (Crown Copyright, 2018).