The Royal Air Force has released details of the longest Typhoon sortie yet flown during Operation Shader, the UK contribution to the fight against so-called Islamic State.
On September 23 a pair of Typhoons flew for seven hours and 46 minutes on a mission which saw them attack and destroy a weapons cache before conducting a simultaneous strike against four truck bombs. It was not revealed whether the targets were in Iraq or Syria.
Flight Lieutenant Tom [surname withheld for security reasons] led the mission from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. He said: “Whilst this sortie was the longest flown by RAF Typhoons to date the nature of the mission was no different to those flown day in day out over the past three years of this operation by both Typhoon and Tornado aircrew. These sorties would not be possible without the tireless support of our ground crew and of the air-air refuelling team who enable us to remain on station for such long periods of time.”
The sortie was mostly flown at night and involved several refuellings from RAF and coalition tankers. After scanning the areas around the targets to ensure no civilians were present, the targets were struck with a total of six Paveway IV dual-mode precision-guided munitions.
Flt Lt Tom: “Sitting in the confines of a fast-jet cockpit for such a long time can be tiring, particularly at night, but assisting the coalition forces fighting Da’esh on the ground is extremely rewarding and more than enough to keep us focused. By destroying vehicle-borne IEDs and weapons caches we not only save the lives of troops but also civilians; Da’esh have shown no hesitation in the past in detonating these huge bombs close to civilians.’
On the same day as the record mission, other RAF Typhoons were active over Iraq, where they destroyed another truck bomb, a terrorist-held building and a mortar team firing on Iraqi government forces. Meanwhile, RAF Tornado GR4s also destroyed five truck bombs, an armed truck, an IS building and command post. By the end of the day, the RAF had destroyed a total of 17 terrorist targets.
On the third anniversary of the mission against IS in the Middle East the MOD released figures of air strikes flown by the RAF as of September 28. Since the UK voted to begin air strikes in September 2014 the air arm had struck IS targets 1,340 times in Iraq and 262 times in Syria.