In addition to airstrikes, the Royal Air Force have also made significant contributions towards the coalition’s intelligence capabilities.
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.
Prior to this, the Royal Air Force had been engaged in a humanitarian relief effort over Mount Sinjar, which involved multiple aid airdrops by transport aircraft and the airlifting of displaced refugees.
By October 2014, the intervention had extended onto Syria with the Royal Air Force only mandated to conduct surveillance flights over the country.
In December 2015, the House of Commons approved British airstrikes against IS in Syria. The UK is one of several countries directly involved in the ongoing Syrian conflict that started in March 2011, utilising Tornado, Typhoon and Reaper aircraft.
By June 2016, the Ministry of Defence had announced that over 1,000 personnel were engaged in theatre and that the Royal Air Force had conducted around 900 airstrikes, flying over 2,200 sorties, killing almost 1,000 Islamic State fighters.
The Royal Air Force has deployed Sentinel R1, Sentry AEW1, RC-135W Rivet Joint and Shadow R1 aircraft to gather surveillance, in addition to Typhoon FGR4, Tornado GR4 and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft.
It is understood that the United Kingdom is responsible for almost half of all coalition surveillance flights over Iraq and Syria, with the Tornado jets RAPTOR reconnaissance pod accounting for 60% of the coalition’s entire tactical reconnaissance in Iraq alone.
It is understood that British strikes have killed 1,000 Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq since bombing began with zero civilian casualties.
Figures released under Freedom of Information laws revealed 974 militants were killed by Royal Air Force strikes in Iraq between September 2014 and May this year.
“Our records show that there were no civilian casualties for the period in question” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement accompanying the information.
The period in question, by the way, is the entirety of the UK’s bombing campaign.