7 October 2015 Ministry of Defence
On Thursday 1 October, an RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft patrolled ahead of Kurdish peshmerga as they conducted their latest offensive against the ISIL terror network in northern Iraq. The Reaper’s crew identified a team of armed terrorists moving on foot and successfully engaged them with a Hellfire missile. The Reaper then provided support to a coalition air strike on an ISIL facility, where car-bombs were being assembled; our aircraft used its sensors to sweep the surrounding area, ensuring there was no risk to civilians, before the air strike went ahead and destroyed the target.
The following day, Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri also provided close air support to the peshmerga, south-west of Kirkuk. ISIL extremists were spotted and were struck by a Paveway IV guided bomb. Meanwhile, further south and west, a Reaper provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike on an ISIL-held building, then used one of its Hellfires to destroy an armoured truck. The Reaper then provided targeting support to another coalition aircraft as it engaged a terrorist heavy machine-gun concealed under trees.
Sunday 4 October saw RAF GR4s patrolling over western Iraq, where they destroyed an anti-aircraft gun position with a Paveway IV. A Reaper was also operating over Anbar province, and it supported coalition air attacks on two Da’ish buildings and a heavy machine-gun. On Monday 5 October, a Reaper, again operating over the west of the country, identified a terrorist team as they planted an improvised explosive device, and successfully attacked them with a Hellfire.
Whilst the coalition air campaign provides extensive air support to current Iraqi security operations, intensive training continues to build up their strength for future offensives, with British military instructors playing their part alongside training teams from other members of the global coalition. A particular focus for the British instructors has been on teaching techniques to minimise the threat posed by the large numbers of improvised explosive devices and booby-traps with which the terrorists attempt to hold up Iraqi advances. The UK has given the Iraqi forces 1,000 Vallon mine-detectors and these, combined with the training provided, have already helped save many lives.