RAF aircraft have carried out over 1,700 strikes against Islamic State since 2014 and in his first visit to Cyprus, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson also met the crews who are playing a vital role in the coalition campaign to defeat Islamic State. 

RAF aircraft flew on operations against the terrorist group every day over the Christmas period, striking terrorist compounds, trucks, mortars and pockets of fighters engaged in close quarter, street fighting with Syrian Democratic Forces.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“The dangers we face are changing and are intensifying rapidly. Eliminating the threat from terrorism is critical to our security at home and abroad. Our brave Armed Forces are working tirelessly, day and night, to defeat Daesh after helping to recover significant territory in Iraq. Only by defeating this evil and barbaric group for good will we reduce the deadly threat they pose to us, which is why we won’t stop until their global network is destroyed.”

Fast jets flying out of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and remotely piloted Reaper aircraft continue to provide support to the SDF on the ground who are clearing the last remaining pockets of terrorists in Eastern Syria say the MoD. Adding that Typhoons, Tornados and Reapers worked closely with coalition partners, offering vital intelligence and close air support throughout December, destroying targets near Abu Kamal, Abu Hardub and Abu Hammam.

The MoD also say that Williamson visited UK troops stationed in Taji who, along with over 600 British soldiers on the ground in Iraq, are helping to train that country’s forces. UK troops have so far helped train around 60,000 Iraqi Security Forces in counter-IED, engineering and combat medical skills.


  1. Before shouting about our contribution it would be good to see what percentage our contribution equates to and how well our small number of aircraft performed in number of sorties generated?

    • We have contributed the second most after the US, and we are way ahead of France who are 3rd.

      As of 15 April 2017, the BBC reported that 129 Paveway IV bombs, 37 Hellfire missiles, 20 Brimstone missiles, 30 Unspecified/other armaments

      “As of 14 March 2017, the MoD says the operation has cost the UK taxpayers £265 million so far.”

  2. I think a better question is just how much this cost. Also dropping bombs worth hundreds of thousands on targets that are 100% safe from collateral damage, makes me wonder just how useful these strikes actually where and how much it was just PR and a waste of already limited defence budget.

  3. Do not think it is a waste of resources chaps.
    Any and all ISIS fighters killed is a good result and worth every penny. We have to militarily smash these idiots.
    I agree that the RAF was all to pleased to contribute to coalition air strikes for several reasons
    1) it protects their allocation of the lions share of the defence budget
    2) allows the RAF to justify weapons programmes that were delivered late, over budget and at high unit cost eg storm shadown, brimstone etc
    3) Raises RAF profile and skewers political thinking that the RAF alone can deliver expeditionary warfare which is utter “Tosh”.

    sorry for sounding anti RAF but part of the reason the other armed forces are in a state is because most advanced weaponry development and purchasing has gone to them in the last 15-20 years.
    £11 billion on voyager tankers vs £6 billion for QE carriers
    £30 billion on Eurofighter typhoon programme, whilst RN has inadequate numbers and capabilities on its warship/ escort fleet.
    The personnel delivering air strikes against ISIS have done a superb job and need to be congratulated for their professionalism and success. Very low civilian casualty numbers and good accuracy.

    • Mobil/Global RAF totally agree with your comments and interestingly the Aussies are now withdrawing their aircraft so should we do the same?. It would save a small fortune and given that we are a tiny player in all this lets give up the pretence and reduce our expenditure.
      We would still have a significant personnel commitment carrying out training so it would hardly be running away. Of course this wouldn’t fit into our “punching above our weight mantra” that allows politicians to pretend that we have any coherent military capability remaining except for Trident.

    • Not saying it shouldn’t be done. The question is it could be done far more cheaply and efficiently. Right now just the RAF have used planes and ordnance that cost more than that whole regions GDP to blow up Toyotas with machine guns bolted on. Against insurgencies Typhoons were not the best fit for purpose. That would have been many more Tornadoes cheaper to operate and actually built with ground attack in mind. That or a cheap turboprop for their low speed and long loiter time.
      Also how many strikes were not done and opportunities to shorten this campaign missed due to criminally restrictive Rules of Engagement. That only in the end serve to do more harm by encouraging the behavior of moving supplies into civilian hospitals, residential areas and schools. Not to mention just prolonging jihadist/salafist rule over those areas, because it takes time to dig them out like ticks one at a time.

      • 1 – Typhoon is a better ground attack aircraft than Tornado other than munitions integration, which is coming.

        2 – Cheap turboprops. Congratulations, you just arrived to the party late, have no proper ISR and have not enough munitions. YOU’re also forced to run away every time the Russians come to ward you off instead of being the one doing the forcing.

        3 – You think an entirely new branch of aircraft, spares, training, logistics, maintenance, support and infrastructure will be cheaper than flying a more expensive jet a little more? Just no.

        • So munitions integration that hasn’t happened YET made them better for strikes ALREADY done. Also ground attack by turboprop aircraft and indeed all other aircraft including jets loaded with a strike package must have top cover anyway if their is a peer or near peer such as the Russians in theater. Air support to ground forces is best done low and slow. By aircraft that are relatively cheap but durable. This can be done because they do not have to go fly fast or climb fast. They just have to move a large amount of ordnance from point A to point B, however and this a very big distinction unlike a strike fighter they have to stay on station and loiter for a time. Good examples of type A-10, SU-25, the old A-6 Intruder. Turboprop aircraft have been successful against insurgencies, for several reasons they are cheap and can takeoff from very primitive facilities, they are slower than most jets so they can make extended firing passes accurately and with MUCH less expensive ordnance further lowering operating costs, while still being faster than helicopters so able to respond faster. The push to go to a jet for CAS and COIN in the US was done by the Air Force. Not the Army fought tooth and nail against it until they were promised a dedicated CAS aircraft. This was because the Army knew the utility of a low flying relatively slow aircraft like the A1-Skyraider especially after Vietnam. With it’s combination of 4x20mm cannons and 8000lbs ordnance and relatively long loiter time. What they got was the AF going back on it’s word and try to get out of buying the A-10 and had to have Congress force them buy it. Air Forces no matter what country you are in seem to often not buy what they need for the task at hand but the shiniest most expensive possible thing they can get.
          Also unless I am mistaken no western country AT war with Russia. Nor do I think they plan to start one. In addition do you really think this will be the last counter insurgent operation? So no I do not consider it a waste to preserve the service life of top tier equipment. Bombing cavemen without air defense doesn’t take billions dollars worth of aircraft. So do it efficiently their are many other threats to contend with. So save the Typhoons for those threats and actually use up the aircraft already purchased and are planned to be retired. You don’t retire something until it is about to fall apart from overuse, getting the taxpayers value out of spending is paramount as is preparing for the next INEVITABLE war or group of insurgents bound and determined to murder their way into heaven or workers utopia depending on which ideological poison of the day is in style.


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