RAF Typhoon Fires First Brimstone in Anger
RAF Typhoons on Operation SHADER Use Brimstone Missiles for First Time
The Royal Air Force’s Brimstone missile capability has been fired from a Typhoon jet for the first time, on Operation SHADER, Britain’s contribution to the fight against the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, Daesh).
The MOD released news of the RAF airstrike Friday. The Brimstone was one of three weapons upgrades fitted onto the Typhoon last month under ‘Project Centurion’, worth £425m over the past three years.
Islamic State fighters have been driven back to a small enclave of territory with is a significant civilian population. This has caused a reduction in military airstrikes in February.
Despite this, RAF Typhoons supported the Syrian Democratic Forces east of Abu Kamal in Syria, striking two ISIS strong-points, including a heavy machine-gun position. An RAF Typhoon used Brimstone missile for the first time to attack an Islamic State vessel on the Euphrates river.
As the Syrian Democratic Forces have continued their operations to clear the last small remaining pocket of ISIS-held territory that has been identified in eastern Syria, Royal Air Force aircraft have maintained daily armed reconnaissance support, delivering air attacks if needed by the SDF on the ground.
On Monday 11 February, the SDF encountered two Islamic State strong-points on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, across the river from Abu Kamal. These strong-points were directing fire, including from a heavy machine-gun, at close range against the SDF, so assistance was requested from two RAF Typhoon FGR4s, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker. The Typhoons conducted an accurate simultaneous attack on both strong-points, hitting each with a Paveway IV guided bomb, and successfully eliminated the threat to the SDF.
A further pair of RAF Typhoons patrolled the Euphrates valley on Tuesday 19 February. A boat had been identified as being used by ISIS and was found by the Typhoons to be moored on the river bank due south of Baghuz Fawqani. A Brimstone 2 missile was fired to deny the ISIS fighters use of the craft, whether to bring in supplies or allow them to set up operations elsewhere. This was the first operational firing of a Brimstone 2 from a Typhoon FGR4, following the aircraft’s recent upgrade.
Project Centurion has not only enhanced the RAF’s Typhoon with the precision attack missile Brimstone, but the aircraft now also has the deep-strike cruise missile Storm Shadow and the air-to-air Meteor missile at its disposal. It means that the Typhoons now have boosted capabilities to intercept airborne missiles and strike ground based targets, seamlessly taking over from the Tornado’s attack role as it nears retirement.
Image: RAF Typhoons on Operation SHADER in 2017 (Crown Copyright, 2017).