Tornado aircraft saw further action against Islamic State this week, engaging a main battle tank.

The tank had been spotted at Tadmur, in the ancient city of Palmyra. A Brimstone missile scored a solid hit on the target according to the Minsitry of Defence.

Close to Iraq’s border with Syria, a Reaper meanwhile provided surveillance support to coalition air strikes on two Daesh facilities in Al Qaim, manufacturing truck-bombs and other improvised explosive devices. An anti-aircraft gun was spotted, despite efforts to conceal it under cover, and was destroyed by one of the Reaper’s Hellfires.

What is the current status of the air campaign?

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.

The cost of the operations against Islamic State and other details of the campaign were revealed in a briefing paper. In March 2015 the MoD confirmed that the net additional costs of the military air operation would be met from the Treasury Special Reserve; while the costs of training and equipping the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, and the provision of key enablers, would be met from the MOD’s Deployed Military Activity Pool (DMAP).

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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