RAF F35 Lightning
RAF Aircraft keep up the pressure on ISIL with continuing raids across Iraq.
On the morning of Monday 2 March, a pair of RAF Tornado GR4s led other coalition aircraft in an attack on a series of ISIL fortified positions south of Kirkuk. These bunkers posed a potential threat to offensive operations by the Kurdish peshmerga, who have also benefitted from equipment and extensive training provided by British and coalition military instructors.
Meanwhile, in western Iraq, RAF Reapers provided close air support to an Iraqi Army offensive in Anbar province. The retreating ISIL terrorists sought to hold up the Iraqi advance with numerous improvised explosive devices. One vehicle-borne bomb posed a particular obstacle to the Iraqi ground forces, so a Reaper destroyed the vehicle with a Hellfire missile. Later that night, another Reaper assisted Iraqi troops who had come under fire from the terrorists, carrying out an attack with a Hellfire missile on the ISIL position.
Earlier actions included;
20 February: RAF Tornado GR4s provided close air support to peshmerga units in the front line against ISIL. A terrorist position was identified in north-western Iraq, on the banks of the River Tigris, and attacked with a Paveway IV precision guided bomb.
23 February: A Tornado patrol operating in the far west of Iraq, conducted an armed reconnaissance mission searching for terrorist movement across the open desert.
An ISIL armed vehicle was detected, and attacked with a Brimstone missile. RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft have also continued to provide overwatch to Iraqi ground forces, and the Tornado patrols are routinely supported by Voyager air-to-air refuelling tankers, withRAF Sentry command and surveillance aircraft playing a key role in the coordination and control of the coalition’s overall air campaign.
At sea, HMS Dauntless is operating as part of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group, while HMS Kent is escorting the French Charles de Gaulle carrier group; both groups are currently committed to air operations over Iraq.
24 February: Tornado GR4s, based at RAF Akrotiri, provided close air support to Iraqi ground forces engaged in close combat with ISIL in Anbar province. A large building being used as a stronghold by the terrorist organisation was identified and a precision attack was conducted with a Paveway IV bomb which demolished the building without endangering friendly forces.
25 February: A Reaper used Hellfire missiles to engage two more ISIL positions which were firing on Iraqi soldiers.
26 February: An RAF Reaper provided close air support to Iraqi soldiers engaged in close combat with ISIL in the west of the country. The Reaper used Hellfire missiles to attack a group of terrorists and a heavy machine-gun position.
The aircraft then supported coalition fast jets striking additional terrorist positions nearby. A second Reaper also ensured that Iraqi soldiers received air support into the night, identifying two more ISIL positions, which were struck by coalition jets. The Reaper then spotted another terrorist position, firing on the Iraqi troops, and intervened with a successful Hellfire strike.
27 February: In the early hours of Friday morning, an RAF Tornado GR4 patrol conducted reconnaissance to the north-west of Haditha. An ISIL armoured personnel carrier was located, and destroyed with a Brimstone missile. Later on Friday, a Reaper was called in by Iraqi forces to deal with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. The vehicle was successfully destroyed with Hellfire.