On Monday the 15th of March Typhoons struck three Daesh-held caves in northern Iraq. On the 16th, Typhoons hit two caves and on the 17th Typhoons destroyed two more caves.

The Typhoon jets are deployed as part of Operation Shader.

The Ministry of Defence say in a news release that Iraqi security forces continue to mount operations in northern Iraq to eliminate any groups of Daesh terrorists attempting to regain a foothold in the region.

“Coalition airpower is supporting these operations, and Royal Air Force aircraft have played a significant role, conducting an intensive series of air strikes on Daesh targets south-west of Erbil since 10 March, where the terrorists have sought to establish bases in the numerous caves of the Makhmur mountains.

On Monday 15 March, two Typhoons successfully attacked a cave used by Daesh with Paveway IV guided bombs, and later that day a second Typhoon flight struck two more Daesh-held caves with Paveways. Two more caves, in which Daesh had established a presence, were hit with Paveway IVs on Tuesday 16 March, and a further two such caves were destroyed in like manner on Wednesday 17 March.”

The MoD add that all of the caves were located in a remote, mountainous area, but nevertheless, “very careful checks were made before each strike to ensure that there were no signs of civilians who might be placed at risk”.

What is Operation Shader?

The air drops were ordered following the genocide of the Yazidi people and other ethnic minorities by Daesh in Northern Iraq, which had led to them fleeing onto the mountainside to escape Daesh.

Following the conclusion of the aid drops, the operation quickly changed to become the UK element in the US-led coalition that began the campaign to destroy Daesh. Based out of Cyprus, the Royal Air Force continues to survey and strike targets in Iraq and Syria as part of the Global Coalition under the banner of Op SHADER.

You can read more about the operation here.

4.5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
captain p wash

A lot of bloody caves in Iraq !

Mark B

not any more!


That obviously require very expensive aircraft to shut the front doors – permanently!!!

Peter S

We really shouldn’t be using £100m aircraft for this kind of activity. Wearing out scarce airframes to hit caves FFS!
We really need a cheap low end combat aircraft to do this- like Hawks, oh wait.


Totally agree with you. We should have pursued this option a decade or two ago, especially for largely uncontested airspace like this or Afghanistan!!!

James Fennell

Syria is highly contested airspace. How can a Hawk 1/ have the range or IFR capability to get there from Cyprus, 2./ target or deliver PGMs, and 3./ have the ESM/ECM to look after itself against Russian/Syrian jamming and air defences if needed. Just sayin’

Peter S

You are of course right about the limitations of a T1. But the latest combat Hawk could be kitted out to carry out strike missions. Presumably, neither Russia nor the Assad regime object to attacks on Daesh so the full defensive kit of Typhoon wouldn’t be required. In fact I believe these missions are disclosed to Russia to avoid incidents.
We do need a lower cost option of some kind especially in view of the small size of the Typhoon fleet.


‘We do need a lower cost option of some kind especially in view of the small size of the Typhoon fleet’

Yep, it’s called Protector and 16 of them are on order!

Hawk T1 is pretty old and has only been retained for the last few years by default because they couldn’t decide what to replace it with in the aggressor and Red Arrows roles.

James H

Then why are the predators not doing it then? And if unmanned is the future why have we cut the protectors to 16 when they could augment the P8s aswell.


I believe a number of Reapers are also deployed in the region but they can only carry Hellfire and Paveway alongside their surveillance kit.

16 is the minimum number of Protectors to be ordered with the possibility of more whilst lots of other UCAV options are being pursued (Tempest being the primary one) and I seem to recall Seaspray is being looked at to provide a maritime capability.


Well they’ve started building Mosquitos in the UK again. Perhaps this fine aircraft could be used for these kinds of missions?

James Fennell

Sounds like a SNATCH landrover solution to me. The Daily Mail will crucify you the first time a pilot is lost.

James H

But isn’t the Americans experimenting with this with the light attack aircraft?

Robert Blay.

Typhoons have the speed, range, persistence, weapons and sensor capabilities to carry out such strikes. Simple cheap aircraft cannot. Plus, what’s the point in spending even more money on another aircraft type, just so our very expensive Typhoons can sit at Coningsby looking nice. We buy them to use them. And they would simply be used for something else, so airframe life wouldn’t be reduced. I was operating over the vastness of Syria or Afghanistan, I would want to be in a Typhoon or an F15E. Definitely not a Hawk type aircraft.


If I was flying over Syria or Afghanistan, I think I would want to be in an A10 Warthog….


I wonder if the 24 T1 Typhoons are rarely used, thus their withdrawal will have little effect on the total fleet? I can’t get my head around the grounding of around a hundred RAF planes (80 Hawk T1 and 24 T1 Typhoon) in a climate of global uncertainty. The pandemic is still rampant internationally, and the ramifications of that may still result in some military tensions. Politically, it’s already creating vocal hostility and that could quickly lead to physical exchange.

Robert Blay.

The Typhoons will fly everyday. Hawk is old, analogue, subsonic and fitting with zero radar or modern avionics, so it’s very very limited.We don’t even use the T1 for training anymore. Typhoon T1 is also limited to air defence, and would be very expensive to update to T3 standard. Little threat to UK air defence, so the money saved will help pay for the Captor E MK2 radar and many other enhancements on the remaining Typhoon fleet.


The Tranche 1s do a lot of the QRA duties.


Would be nice if the Iraqi’s picked up the bill on this stuff. lol

John Mulley

Dark ages, backward and primitive – they deserve to go to hell not paradise.


Typhoon is a hell of a lot more than £100m an airframe I think £140m would be more accurate and that was years ago from an AVM to Parliament recorded in Hansard.
The bombs they have are still very accurate.
A Hawk , Harrier, Canberra or anything else maybe an Avro Anson could have dropped them.

Not long and it will all be by UACV…. ask the Armenians!


Thing is they had/have a naff air defence system, that was easily circumvented. Try that with a NATO power and the results would have been different.


We could in all reality used a Lancaster bomber for this. What is the point of using an aircraft the value of a Typhoon for this work?

Captain P Wash

Blimey, have you seen how much Lancaster’s are going for on EBay lately ?

Robert Blay.

We buy them to use them, not much use sat looking pretty at Coningsby.


Sorry for the pedantry, but is “based out of…” a phrase that makes any sense?

I think “based in…” or “flying out of…” would be better phrases.