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Military

Update: air strikes against Daesh

27 June 2016

British forces have continued to conduct air operations in the fight against Daesh

Latest update

- Wednesday 22 June – Tornados and a Reaper conducted attacks on six Daesh positions north of Bayji, while Typhoons provided close air support over Fallujah.
- Thursday 23 June – A Reaper struck a further target north of Bayji, Typhoons attacked terrorist positions in northern Syria and Fallujah.
- Friday 24 June – Tornados and a Reaper attacked Daesh equipment in northern Iraq, while Typhoons conducted further air support over Fallujah.
- Saturday 25 June – A Reaper destroyed three terrorist targets in northern Iraq.
- Sunday 26 June – Tornados used Stormshadow missiles against a very large concrete bunker in western Iraq, Typhoons destroyed a smaller bunker, and a Reaper struck targets in the north.

Detail

Typhoon FGR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri and supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, flew close air support missions over Fallujah on Wednesday 22 June. They successfully attacked three Daesh strongpoints with Paveway IV guided bombs, the targets had been identified by Iraqi ground forces as being manned by machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade teams.

North of Bayji, Tornado GR4s and a Reaper supported an Iraqi offensive operation. The Tornados employed one Paveway IV and three Brimstone missiles to destroy four Daesh fighting positions along a defensive embankment, whilst the Reaper used a single GBU-12 guided bomb to destroy two more positions.

A second Reaper continued support in the area into Thursday 23 June and used a Hellfire missile to eliminate a terrorist spotted with a man portable surface-to-air missile. Typhoons continued their support over Fallujah as well, conducting a Paveway IV attack on a machine-gun team. Another Typhoon flight operated over northern Syria, close to the Turkish border and destroyed two Daesh-held buildings several miles east of Azaz.

On Friday 24 June, a Reaper supported an Iraqi offensive near Sharqat, west of Kirkuk. Its crew used a Hellfire missile to destroy an engineering vehicle which was being used to create defences ahead of the Iraqi advance. Tornados patrolled further north and employed a Paveway IV against a mortar position north-west of Mosul.

Typhoons conducted further operations over Fallujah and were called in by the Iraqi army to destroy two machine-gun positions on the northern outskirts of the city. A total of 101 targets have been successfully prosecuted by the RAF in Fallujah and neighbouring areas since the start of the Iraqi operation to liberate the city.

The following day saw a Reaper again on patrol near Sharqat, and this aircraft delivered three successful attacks with Hellfire missiles against a truck, a group of terrorists, and a van which Daesh had been seen loading with weapons and ammunition.

Intelligence had determined that Daesh were using a large concrete bunker in western Iraq as a weapons facility. Due to the massive construction, built during the Saddam era, it was decided to use four Stormshadow missiles against it, as the weapon has particularly good capabilities against such a challenging target. The missiles were launched on Sunday 26 June by two Tornados, all four Stormshadows scored direct hits and penetrated deep within the bunker. Also in western Iraq, south-east of Hit, a Typhoon flight used a single Paveway IV to destroy a much smaller bunker built by Daesh south-east of Hit. In northern Iraq, a Reaper provided close air support near Sharqat for the third successive day, using its Hellfires to attack a vehicle, a group of terrorists on foot, and a team planting improvised explosive devices.

Previous air strikes

1 June: Reapers were in action again, one patrolled the skies above Qayyarah, where a camouflaged set of loaded rocket launch rails were spotted and destroyed with a Hellfire missile. A second Reaper patrolled over eastern Syria and western Iraq, and located a terrorist check-point on the Iraqi side of the border, west of Al Qa'im, which was stopping the free movement of traffic. Again, a Hellfire missile was employed and the check-point successfully attacked.

Two Tornado missions provided reconnaissance and close air support to Iraqi forces around Fallujah. One pair of Tornados used Paveway IVs to conduct simultaneous attacks on two Daesh-held buildings close to a canal to the south of the city; one building housed a terrorist sniper team, the other a recoilless anti-tank artillery piece. Both targets were destroyed by direct hits. The second Tornado flight successfully silenced a heavy-machine-gun positioned in a third Daesh strongpoint after it opened fire on the advancing Iraqi troops.

2 June: Three successive flights of Tornado GR4s and Typhoon FGR4s provided close air support to Iraqi units on the southern outskirts of the city. One Tornado flight conducted four attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs, striking a bunker and three teams of terrorists armed with an anti-tank gun, rocket-propelled grenades and a heavy machine-gun. A second Tornado mission delivered simultaneous attacks on two Daesh-held buildings, then a third bombing attack on a heavy machine-gun position that had opened fire on Iraqi troops. The Typhoon flight dealt with a further artillery piece, using a Paveway IV.

In northern Iraq, another pair of Typhoons struck a group of terrorists spotted advancing towards peshmerga positions near Kisik, then headed to an area south-east of Mosul where they used three Paveways to attack more extremists mustering in and around a large warehouse.

3 June: Operations over southern Fallujah continued when a pair of Typhoons conducted Paveway attacks on two Daesh strongpoints which had opened fire on Iraqi forces with machine-guns and other weapons. Two Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled over the city the following day, exploiting their long endurance and excellent surveillance capabilities to provide persistent overwatch for the Iraqi troops on the ground.

During the course of Saturday, the Reapers delivered five attacks, using two GBU-12 guided bombs and three Hellfire missiles, against two machine-gun teams, two Daesh firing positions and a tunnel network. They also provided assistance to five other air strikes conducted by coalition fast jets on terrorist positions.

5 June: Tornados were again in action over southern Fallujah. A factory producing improvised truck-bombs was struck with a pair of Paveway IVs, destroying two vehicles that were being prepared for use, and two further attacks with Paveways accounted for two anti-tank weapons.

6 June: Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s continued to provide close air support to the Iraqi operation to liberate Fallujah. A coalition surveillance aircraft spotted a group of Daesh terrorists taking up position in a building to the west of the city, allowing them to be quickly targeted by the Typhoons using a Paveway IV guided bomb. In northern Iraq, intelligence had located a large truck-bomb factory near Mosul and two RAF Tornado GR4s armed with 1000lb Enhanced Paveway II guided bombs were tasked with its destruction. A single EPW II destroyed the factory.

7 June: Operations around Fallujah continued when Tornados successfully attacked a weapons and ammunition stockpile hidden to the south-east of the city.

8 June: Tornados conducted three attacks to support Iraqi ground forces engaged in firefights with terrorists inside Fallujah. Despite the close proximity of the Iraqi forces, the GR4s were able to deliver simultaneous attacks with Paveway IVs against two strongpoints housing Daesh machine-gun and artillery teams. They then struck a further machine-gun position when it also opened fire on the Iraqis.

Typhoons also contributed to the Fallujah operations, using Paveway IVs against two groups of Daesh extremists armed with a light machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenades. In northern Iraq, another Typhoon mission successfully attacked a Daesh-held building east of Mosul, whilst a Reaper used a GBU-12 bomb to demolish a building where another coalition surveillance aircraft had observed terrorists unloading supplies. A second Reaper patrolled over Syria and employed a Hellfire missile to destroy a Daesh truck travelling at speed on the open road south of Raqqa.

9 June: Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s continued to provide close air support to Iraqi ground forces fighting to liberate Fallujah. One Tornado flight conducted successful attacks using Paveway IV guided bombs against four Daesh-held buildings from which terrorists were directing machine-gun fire at the Iraqi forces. A second Tornado mission used a Paveway IV to destroy a building west of the city, within which a terrorist armed vehicle was reported by nearby Iraqi troops to be concealed.

10 June: A Reaper worked in close conjunction with other coalition aircraft to engage Daesh rocket and mortar teams operating near Qayyarah. The Reaper provided support to two coalition strikes on rocket positions, then used its own Hellfire missiles and a GBU-12 guided bomb against a further set of rocket launchers and a mortar. A Typhoon FGR4 flight was also operating near Qayyarah, and they conducted attacks against five targets: three buildings where Daesh extremists had been spotted gathering and two more rocket launcher positions. North-east of Mosul, another pair of Typhoons destroyed a heavy machine-gun team with a Paveway IV. To the south, Tornados again provided close air support over Fallujah, using their Paveways against three strongpoints which housed two machine-gun teams and a group of terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

11 June: An RAF Reaper continued to hunt terrorist rocket and mortar teams around Qayyarah, conducting three attacks with Hellfire missiles.

12 June: Another Reaper patrolled over Qayyarah, and also fired three Hellfires, its targets were two terrorist vehicles and a group of Daesh fighters. Typhoons were also active nearby, and used Paveway IVs to attack two groups of terrorists caught in the open and two Daesh-held buildings. A Typhoon mission also joined Tornados operating over Fallujah; the Typhoons used one Paveway IV against a machine-gun position, whilst the Tornados delivered five very precise attacks in very demanding circumstances, with Iraqi troops extremely close to the terrorist targets. Paveway IVs were used to destroy a rocket team, an anti-tank gun, a heavily armed pick-up truck and a heavy machine-gun team, whilst a Brimstone missile silenced a light machine-gun.

During Sunday night, a pair of Tornados armed with 1000lb Enhanced Paveway II guided bombs conducted a carefully planned strike on a factory to the south-west of Qayyarah where truck-bombs were being built by Daesh. Four EPW IIs hit their targets accurately and initial reports suggest the mission was a success.

13 June: A pair of Typhoons assisted Iraqi troops as they engaged in very close combat inside Fallujah. Our aircraft delivered four precision attacks, all with Paveway IV guided bombs, that destroyed five strongpoints defended by Daesh terrorists armed with machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades and an anti-tank gun.

14 June: The Typhoons continued operations over Fallujah, and again worked very closely with the Iraqi units hitting five terrorist positions including sniper and machine-gun teams. In northern Iraq, around Qayyarah, a second Typhoon flight and a Reaper supported Iraqi and Kurdish units. The Typhoons attacked a Daesh-held building with a Paveway IV, while the Reaper conducted four attacks: a GBU-12 guided bomb was used against a group of terrorists gathered at a weapons stockpile, and three mortars were attacked in turn with Hellfire missiles. The Reaper also tracked the arrival of a truck-bomb and observed it being concealed inside a garage – this surveillance enabled a successful attack to then be delivered by a coalition aircraft which destroyed the vehicle.

15 June: Two Typhoon flights saw action over Fallujah on Wednesday, and between them they conducted seven successful attacks with Paveway IVs. Again all were in very close support of Iraqi ground forces, accounting for terrorist teams armed with heavy weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, and a 23mm anti-aircraft gun.

16 June: With Iraqi forces making steady progress pushing into Fallujah, two flights of Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s contributed to the coalition's air support. Our aircraft successfully attacked four Daesh machine-gun positions that were identified by the Iraqi ground forces, using Paveway IV guided bombs.

17 June: An RAF Reaper patrolling over northern Iraq, north of Bayji. The Reaper's crew identified a large mortar and a Daesh truck, both were destroyed by Hellfire missiles.

18 June: A second Reaper operated in the same area, supporting an offensive by Iraqi forces. It used four Hellfires and a GBU-12 guided bomb to successfully engage three armed pick-up trucks which were firing at the Iraqi troops, a fourth vehicle and a trench position. In north-west Iraq, in Harunah, two pairs of Tornado GR4s, armed with eight 1000lb Enhanced Paveway IIs conducted a pre-planned strike on a complex of buildings which had been identified by intelligence as a headquarters, accommodation and weapons facility for Daesh foreign fighters. All four target buildings were destroyed. Another Reaper patrolled over Syria and attacked a Daesh vehicle south-west of Manbij, destroying it with a Hellfire missile.

19 June: Typhoons were in action over Fallujah, providing close air support to Iraqi troops who had penetrated to the city centre. Six terrorist strongpoints housing machine-gun, artillery and rocket-propelled grenade teams were struck in a series of precision Paveway attacks. In northern Iraq, a Reaper used a pair of Hellfires to engage two groups of Daesh extremists north of Bayji, while Tornados used a Brimstone missile against a third group in the same area, and a Paveway IV against a rocket-launcher north of Mosul.

20 June: An armed reconnaissance patrol by Tornados over eastern Syria used a Brimstone missile to attack a truck-bomb hidden under a tarpaulin between two ruined buildings north of Dayr az Zawr. The Brimstone scored a direct hit; a massive explosion followed, which confirmed how heavily the vehicle had been laden with explosives. Further west, near Raqqah, a Reaper conducted three attacks with Hellfire missiles against a Daesh vehicle and extremists on foot. Typhoons and Tornados were again active over Fallujah, and used Paveway IV bombs to destroy four Daesh machine-gun posts engaged in very close combat with the Iraqi security forces. Since the start of the operation to liberate Fallujah, RAF aircraft have prosecuted some 96 targets in and around the city and neighbouring areas in the Euphrates valley.

21 June: Reaper patrols north of Bayji continued, and five attacks were conducted in support of Iraqi offensive operations. Hellfires accounted for two supply vehicles and a truck armed with an anti-aircraft gun, as well as an observation post dug-in on a ridgeline. A GBU-12 guided bomb destroyed a Daesh mortar team, spotted as they fired at an Iraqi position. A Typhoon flight operated further north, north-west of Mosul, where they used a Paveway IV to hit a rocket-launcher site.



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