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A Reaper provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike north-west of Mosul, then used one of its own Hellfires to attack an Islamic State position.

Recently the Ministry of Defence revealed that British aircraft have carried out more than a thousand air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In October 2014, the Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of an undisclosed number of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat aerial vehicles to assist with surveillance. However, Michael Fallon stated that the Reapers could also conduct airstrikes alongside the Tornado GR4s, if needed.

The first airstrike conducted by a Reaper occurred in November 2014.

By September 2015 – a full year after the operation first began – Tornado and Reaper aircraft had flown over 1,300 missions against Islamic State.

According to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, the UK had conducted a “huge number of missions” over Iraq by December 2014, second only to the United States and five times as many as France.

By February 2015, the UK had contributed 6% of all coalition airstrikes in Iraq – a contribution second only to the United States – which the Defence Select Committee described as “modest”.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

“Daesh is firmly on the back foot. RAF jets are hitting them hard, driving them back and helping local forces recapture territory. This vital work is freeing innocent civilians from a brutal regime, while keeping our streets safe at home.”

Over 3,000 armed sorties have now been flown since operations started in 2014.

In addition to armed aircraft, the Royal Air Force have deployed Sentinel battlefield surveillance aircraft, Sentry AEW&C aircraft, Voyager tanker aircraft, Atlas, Globemaster and Hercules transport aircraft in addition to RC-135W Airseeker reconnaissance aircraft and other platforms.

Operation Shader is the operational code name given to the British participation in the ongoing military intervention against the Islamic State.

The operation began in Iraq on the 26th of September 2014, following a formal request for assistance by the Iraqi government.

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