A Royal Air Force Reaper remotely piloted air system struck terrorists moving at speed on a motorcycle this week.

The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that on Monday the 5th February, a Reaper struck a pair of terrorists riding a motorcycle at speed across countryside.

On Wednesday the 7th another Reaper tracked a number of terrorist targets in the same area, allowing two Daesh-held buildings to be struck successfully by coalition fast jets. The Reaper dealt with a third such building used as a firing point against the SDF, whilst two Tornados destroyed a terrorist observation post, then attacked a building from which a Daesh team planting booby-traps was operating.

Status of the campaign

RAF aircraft have carried out nearly 1,700 strikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria since 2014. The UK have deployed Reaper UAVs, Typhoon jets and Tornados, have conducted significant ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) missions and have provided additional air support such as inflight refuelling and transporting.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“The UK will not be complacent when it comes to terrorism – a point I reaffirmed with my Global Coalition counterparts today. We pledged to continue to fight terrorists until their poisonous global network is totally destroyed. Despite Daesh’s diminishing territory, it is hell-bent on directing and inspiring terrorist attacks worldwide – threatening our security at home and abroad. The threat they pose is evolving and intensifying but our resolve to defeat them will not fade.”

The MoD say it is working to ‘secure Daesh’s lasting defeat’ by working with legitimate local authorities to ensure a stable, prosperous and united future for affected communities in both Iraq and Syria. Daesh must not be allowed to re-emerge.

It was recently 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.

The MoD says the operation has cost the UK taxpayers £265 million so far.

11 COMMENTS

  1. The Reaper generally carries either Brimestone or Paveways. Brimestone costs around £105K whilst Paevway 2 (500lb) costs nearly £16K. Sounds like overkill if you use Brimestone on a motorbike!

    • It would be, but in all the MOD reports on airstrikes by Reapers in RAF service in Iraq and Syria, I have not seen a single instance of a Brimstone or Paveway–the one used by Tornado/Typhoon–being used. Instead, Reapers are armed with Hellfire and GBU12. Hellfires are not exactly cheap but not so expensive as Brimstone. My understanding is that with the Protector drones being in the process of being purchased, it was not thought cost-effective to integrate Brimstone/Paveway IV to the Reapers.

  2. Oops, my bad, was regurgitating a report from the Mail on Sunday. Should have checked, but anyway my point is that it is a bit overkill to use such a weapon on a couple of guys riding motorbike. There must be be a more cost effective way of dealing with soft targets rather than using either a dedicated ATGM of LGB? I know from experience an Apache’s 30mm gun will make a real mess of a person – not for Youtube! Perhaps the Reaper needs a gun for a strafing run as there’s no direct threat to it?

    • Dave B wrote:
      “but anyway my point is that it is a bit overkill to use such a weapon on a couple of guys riding motorbike. There must be be a more cost effective way of dealing with soft targets rather than using either a dedicated ATGM of LGB?

      The Yanks have invested a lot of money in getting BAE to improve on the ubiquitous 2.75mm (Hydra) rockets. They came up with the Advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS)
      https://www.baesystems.com/en/product/apkws-laser-guided-rocket

      I don’t know why the Uk hasn’t snapped it up as compared to other weapon systems its as cheap as chips.

    • I’ve thought something similar for a long time. A hellfire to take out a motorcycle is definitely a very expensive way to do it. I am not sure about a gun. I am not aware of any Reapers being fitted with them, but I stand to be corrected on that. I know that several companies now offer laser guidance versions of unguided rockets–the same unguided rockets Apaches can carry, to turn them into a cheaper smart weapon instead of Hellfire. The thing is that I am unclear if these smart rockets can deal with small, fast-moving targets like motorcycles. Additionally, the RAF cannot afford to inflict accidental civilian casualties by employing weapons that lack pinpoint accuracy, as you know the tabloids and the usual political suspects would be all over it. But, yes, I agree that a cheaper, reliably accurate smart weapon for this kind of situation would be desirable–perhaps Protector will get something.

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