News story

RAF Tornado jets ready for attack role over Iraq

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that Royal Air Force jets have conducted armed reconnaissance operations over areas of Iraq.

RAF Tornados prepare for take-off [Picture: Sergeant Ralph Merry ABIPP RAF, Crown copyright]
RAF Tornados prepare for take-off at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus

Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft, currently deployed in Cyprus, have been flying intelligence-gathering missions over Iraq for a number of weeks.

Today, 27 September, following the parliamentary approval given yesterday, in company with other aircraft from the international coalition, 2 Tornados conducted armed reconnaissance operations over areas of Iraq where terrorists threaten the civilian population.

Although on this occasion no targets were identified as requiring immediate air attack by our aircraft, the intelligence gathered by the Tornados’ highly sophisticated surveillance equipment will be invaluable to the Iraqi authorities and their coalition partners in developing the best possible understanding of ISIL’s disposition and help acquire potential targets for future operations, either by aircraft or Iraqi ground forces.

RAF Tornado pilot
RAF Tornado pilot climbing into his aircraft [Picture: Corporal Neil Bryden RAF, Crown copyright]

Furthermore, we know that the very presence of coalition air power over Iraq has a significant impact on ISIL’s efforts to attack the Iraqi people. With no effective defence against air strikes, and knowing the precision with which coalition aircraft can hit them, the terrorists are forced to be much more cautious, keeping their forces dispersed and movement inhibited.

They also know that should they concentrate to deliver an attack against Iraqi or Kurdish troops, aircraft are likely to arrive overhead very soon afterwards.

The Tornados were supported by an RAF Voyager refuelling tanker. Also, RAF transport aircraft have in the past 24 hours delivered further supplies to the Kurdish authorities to aid their efforts in the fight against ISIL.

For more information see ISIL: UK government response page on GOV.UK

Published 27 September 2014
Last updated 27 September 2014 + full page history
  1. New MOD statement following the conclusion of the first mission over Iraq.
  2. First published.