Tornado jets collapsed the entrance to a cave in northern Iraq, where Islamic State had stockpiled equipment.

On Monday the 7th of January, two Tornado GR4s delivered an attack with a pair of Paveway IV guided bombs which successfully collapsed the entrance to a cave, fifty-five miles south-east of Kirkuk, where one such stockpile was known to be stored.

After almost four decades on operations, Royal Air Force Tornado jets recently returned home to RAF Marham from operations in the Middle East.

First entering service in 1979, the Tornado jet been involved in Op Shader for the past four and a half years, the UK’s mission to defeat Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Background on Operation Shader

By September last year, the Ministry of Defence had announced that over 1,000 personnel were engaged in theatre and that the Royal Air Force had conducted around 1,000 airstrikes, flying over 2,800 sorties, killing over 3,000 Islamic State fighters.

Last year, it was reported that the Royal Air Force was 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.

26 COMMENTS

  1. ‘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.’

    So now they’re gone, all we have is typhoons to carry out all roles?

      • Daniele,

        Is the F35 actually operational? I’ve seen the articles/ propaganda that say it is, but take them with a pinch of salt.

        Have they been deployed to Akitiri or wherever? Or are the top brass still being taken for joyrides around Marham?

        So Cynical today!

        • IOC I believe. What it can actually drop I don’t know.

          I don’t want them deployed to Akrotiri. I want them deploying on our carrier.

          5th gen Stealth jets costing as much as a T31 being used against a guy with an RPG and a AK in Syria / Iraq is not what we spent several billions on in my opinion.

          Of course they can be used, but it is a criminal use of a precious resource.

          • I hear what you’re saying, and I tend to agree, but conversely whats the point of having all these shiny new jets sat on a shiny new carrier sat about doing nothing?

            Surely get them up in the air, exploiting their stealth, using them operationally, getting pilots valuable real life combat experience against foes of the UK/ Nato/ freeworld/whatever ?

            Can you imagine the uproar if god forbid a typhoon was shot down doing a job an F-35 could of been doing except it was sailing around the world showing off global Britain?

            Just a thought.

          • What do you think the F35s will be striking from the carriers? No doubt they will strike low cost targets and the same kind of targets we hit with the tornados and typhoons unless we get into neer peer combat with enemy jets ect then the F35 would really shine. And if some F35s are based on Cyprus atleast they will get some combat experience, better than them flying around the UK or even not flying atall.

          • What will they be striking from the carriers?

            Nothing.

            Because they’ll be in Cyprus!!!

            Thats my point!

            Leaving the carrier as what exactly?

            By your arguments Tanks and self propelled guns are gone. What are they hitting sitting in Tidworth?

            The US did not want to deploy the F22 abroad for years.

            We have few assets, they should be used better.

            You think an F35 flying around Cyprus is “better” than flying in the UK? The UK has numerous training areas and dedicated low flying areas where fast jets train daily, and have done for decades.

            Cyprus is used by the Reds for Winter training.

            I’d ike to see the tourist and Cyprus government reaction to F35s flying around and through the peaks of the Troodos mountains mach loop style.

          • RGR.

            As I suggest to poster below, what’s the point of having tanks and self propelled guns then? What are they hitting? When were they last used? Does mot make them irrelevant.

            Their use has not or is not needed at this time.

            Let me reverse your point.

            Can you imagine the uproar if the latest jet with classified stealth capabilities costing hundreds of millions landed or crash landed and was recovered by hostile forces, when a Reaper or Typhoon would suffice?

            The F117A was not used for years, as it was in effect a silver bullet.

            As for pilot experience, who’s to say the 617 pilots are not?

            And an F35 can crash just like a Typhoon.

            I think it is wrong. There you go!

            Cheers mate.

          • Very precious resource when we have thus far only committed to 48 in active service. Which might be just about enough for fleet air arm needs only but not enough for RAF and delivering carrier strike.
            We need further announcements soon on just how many F35Bs we are a really going to have in frontline service

          • I think you underestimate how difficult it is to operate in a open civil war in a multi national coordinated package. I’d want to be in the best kit to operate out there.

          • Hi Robert.

            Maybe, it is just my opinion.

            Depends who in your civil war we are flying against. I do believe ISIS have little air defence capability?

            Syria’s is negated by Israel and the west whenever the whim takes.
            By cyber methods and airborne EW too I believe?

            In that case does that comment in wanting the best kit available bring the Typhoon and Centurion into question? A supposed world class system?

            Course not.

            Or Reaper, which can remain aloft for, what days? And target a ISIS individual in the same way?

            As far as I was aware our pilots ARE in the best kit out there. Typhoon.

            F35 is meant to penetrate peer defences in a high threat environment using stealth, is it not.

            Instead we propose to use it to drop LGB on a man with a machine gun, while there are still but a few building up to it’s maiden deployment with the carriers we spent several billions on.

            Yes I know, the carriers are all multi role platforms.

            Difference to my mind we once had many assets to choose from, now we do not.

            In other threads on this forum there have been numerous comments at how even Typhoon Reaper Brimstone Hellfire LGB is expensive overkill.

            Suddenly F35 a must. Because it is there.

            Hmmmm.

  2. With only 9 UK based F35’s, they aren’t going anywhere any time soon guys.

    They might deploy 2 or 3 temporarily to prove a point perhaps, but all that would realistically achieve, is to damage this crucial F35 work up to full operational status phase.

    Leave them at Markham and let the RAF work them up and increase the UK based fleet, before we even think about deployment.

    • Daniele,

      As I said I tended to agree with you, however I can see it both ways.

      Essentially arguments can be made for them sitting around doing nothing in UK / on QE or being deployed to somewhere to do something useful. Judging by peoples posts some are for using them, some against.

      But as John has said the discussion is all academic as there are only 9 anyway. Years away from seeing one flying off the QE or POW to strike ISIS or entertain the crowds at Bournemouth airshow.

      Sadly.

      • Saw one over Yeovilton a few weeks back.

        Having Assets such as the Carriers and F35’s just makes our defence more credible in an uncertain World, If you go back to the 30’s, you will see that this Thinking gave us the Mighty Hurricane and It’s Pin-Up Brother the Spitfire. If We didn’t have these Cutting edge Fighters at the Time of War, We’d most probably have been all Talking German now.

        What Concerns me about Then and Now Is the Low Numbers of such Assets. It takes a lot more time to build Complex F35’s than It Did all those years ago. Not to mention the Royal Navy Numbers.

        History has a terrible habit of repeating Itself. Lest We Forget.

          • Nope, Just a bit of a fan of the Unsung Hero of the Battle Of Britain and many other Theaters.

            The Spitfire was a true Masterpiece of Design and Function not to mention a thing of Beauty though.
            It’s a good Job we had Both at the time.

          • And a good job Adolf decided to abandon his attack on the radar stations and the RAF stations, after some Italian bomber bombed London I believe and the RAF retaliated in Berlin.

            That is what saved the UK.

            Without air superiority the RN would have made mincemeat of the Germans trying to cross.

            I love both aircraft by the way.

          • I am a spitfire man, but completely appreciate the hurricane shot down more Germans. The elegance and beauty of the spit win hands down for me though.

            In the battle of Britain film it wasn’t Italians, was a lost German bomber, pretty sure that;s a true story both sides agree on. Not sure the Italians ever bombed mainland Britain? May have to stick the BoB DVD on at the weekend. dagadagadaga..

            And I vote for the English Channel is the biggest reason we don’t all sprechen deutsch.

          • RGR.

            The Aeronautics Italia was indeed involved in the Battle of Britain.

            The Italian bomber is a story I read, how true that I do not know.

            That they were involved and the RAF retaliated on Berlin after bombs dropped on London is factual.

          • Daniele,

            Just googled and you’re right. They did a few bombing raids right at the end of the period that was considered the BoB. But were largely useless getting lost, missing targets etc.

            Also German bombers mistakenly bombed London on 24th Aug, RAF responded by bombing Berlin 26th Aug.

    • Totally agree, we have a long standing plan to get critical mass and at sea! Why not allow them to focus on that and leave it to Typhoon. Typhoon had to wait about 7 yrs to make combat debut, Tornado the same, so f35 can wait!

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