Air Commodore Johnny Stringer predicts that Operation Shader, the fight against Islamic State, will be drawn down as the group are now seriously eroded.

UK Air Component Commander Air Commodore Johnny Stringer said:

“That is not to say it is over, that is not to say there won’t be some hard fighting and some slightly difficult fighting perhaps to come. I would see us being able to do something in that area, certainly in the next six and probably even the next four months or so.”

Speaking at a press conference, Stringer added:

“And I think it is almost sensible to acknowledge that Daesh will almost certainly morph into an insurgent organisation and try and launch an effective, in their eyes, insurgent campaign. I think we will still need an element of manned strike jet as well.

But I am hopefully we may see the ability to draw down elements of that final bit. Because frankly the tempo of our operations is going to reduce as Daesh are beaten in Iraq and Syria.”

The UK has been the second largest contributor to the air campaign in Iraq and Syria. UK aircraft have flown over 3,000 missions as part of Operation Shader, and as of the beginning of November 2016 had conducted 1,115 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria (1,048 and 67 respectively).

In July 2016 the MoD acknowledged that “the RAF has not operated at this sustained operational tempo in a single theatre of conflict for a quarter of a century”.

The Government has consistently maintained that no civilian casualties in Iraq or Syria, to date, have resulted from UK air strikes however it adds “no military operations come without risk, particularly in dense urban environments and against such inhuman Daesh tactics, the RAF continues to take all steps necessary to minimise civilian casualties.”

In December 2016, it was reported that the Royal Air Force is operating at its most intense for 25 years in a single theatre of operation which far outstripped the UK involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan – RAF jets have dropped 11 times more bombs (1,276 strikes) on Syria and Iraq in the preceding 12 months than they had in the busiest year of action in Afghanistan a decade previously.

In answer to a parliamentary question in September 2016 the MoD set the costs of the operation, between August 2014 and the 31st of March 2016, at £265 million (£45 million in the 2014-15 financial year, and £220 million in the 2015-16 financial year).

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Good news for the MOD, they can now start earlier than planned to scrap Tornado. You know, that brilliant hardworking sky tank that could continue to do sterling service, but is doomed for daft illogical reasons.


I hate cynical cost-cutting measures by the MoD along with the best of them, but these airframes are nearly 40 years old and they’ve been worked hard. Have they got much more life in them ?

Will be a very sad day when the Tonka is withdrawn…

Daniele Mandelli

The RAF plan to raise additional Typhoon units until F35 squadrons increase from 2. The manpower for those units needs to come from the GR4 force.
Sadly this does not entail additional aircraft or personnel but at least it keeps fast jet squadron numbers at 8. Tornado only needs to remain until it’s capabilities – storm shadow, Paveway, Brimstone can be replicated by Typhoon.


If only some revised form of airframe training at RAF Cosford could maintain a majority of these Sky Tanks, for another ten years, would be preferable to the cutter’s torch. Most remaining Jaguars reside there, but possibly never considered for further action. My suggestion would enable flyable status for as long as experienced pilots remain in the service. Facilities are there, just the will to retain additional capability is all that is required.

Daniele Mandelli

Last I heard there were indeed lots of Jags at No 1 SOTT.
Maybe some GR4 will trickle down to replace them.
The Jags are not flyable though are they? Just used for mechanical training?


Some machines can do fast runs and many can taxis on airshow days. Just what it would take to get them back to flying order, who knows, SOTT may just be another airframe reserve alongside Shawbury’s operation? Just how many Jag trained aircrew exists? GR4’s could, however, be placed under SOTT, but as flying status until such time as there aren’t enough Tornado aircrew available. You do know, the MOD want them gone for good, and the grey-suited accountants will bloody well make sure they get the axe.

Alan Reid

I think the original plan was to keep the Tonka in-service until 2025.


You are not supposed to remind them of that little gem. Remeber, the Tonka fleet is surplus to requirement and must be scrapped. knowing the MOD’s preference for canceling and scrapping perfectly serviceable kit, it would be unfair to spoil it by referring to past strategies and reassurances.


The ISIS fight is nearly over…. in Syria & Iraq.

Now the anti-ISIS bombing of London, Luton & Bradford can get underway!

John Hampson

I hope all those that demonstrated outside Parliament and all those irresponsible odious clowns inside, who wanted to abandon millions to barbaric enslavement under pure evil, have the honesty to recognise they were wrong and recognise the huge contribution the RAF has made in helping to free these innocent people.

Somehow I doubt it. A substantial and increasing number ignore, dismiss or disparage any facts that discredit their deeply divisive and flawed dogma.

Mark L

Well said John.

Daniele Mandelli