RAF Tornados have launched their first bombing raids against Islamic State (IS) in Syria after MPs voted overwhelmingly for military action. US President Barack Obama welcomed the UK’s vote agreeing to expand military action against IS – saying it demonstrated the coalition’s “unity and resolve”.
A spokesman for the Ministry Of Defence confirmed RAF Tornados had returned from their “first offensive operation over Syria and have conducted strikes”. Earlier, four Tornado GR4s took off from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus. Two returned missing three Paveway bombs each. The target was an oilfield held by Islamic State in the east of Syria. Clearly they had some pre-planned targets ready to go if the vote was a yes … they did not want to hang around.
The Tornados are a small but significant addition to the coalition strike force in Syria and more aircraft will soon be joining them from the UK. Six typhoon jets from RAF Lossiemouth are expected to head to Cyprus along with more Tornados from RAF Marham in Norfolk. Their British-designed Brimstone missiles are a vital asset, with the ability to hit targets with remarkable accuracy and limit collateral damage.