Drones believed to have been controlled from RAF Waddington have played a pivotal role in the UK’s increased bombing raids against ISIL in Iraq over the weekend.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that RAF Reaper drones, manned from the Lincolnshire airbase, have supported French jets in delivering multiple air strikes following the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday evening.
The drones have equally provided assistance to Iraqi troops on the ground over the weekend, destroying a derelict industrial site in which ISIL terrorists had sought shelter under an oil tank following a firefight.
An RAF Reaper also destroyed a terrorist vehicle with a Hellfire missile in northern Iraq, before flying into Syria, and providing surveillance support to the French bombing of an ISIL base near Raqqa.
The drones are just one part of the RAF’s “intensive air operations against ISIL”, with Tornados from RAF Akrotiri, based in Cyprus, supporting Kurdish forces in attacking terrorist strongholds around Ramadi in Iraq.
An MOD update on the weekend’s bombing said: “Our aircraft conducted four successful attacks on a set of Da’ish terrorist positions, using a combination of Paveway IV guided bombs and Brimstone missiles.
“A second Tornado patrol continued to support the Iraqi forces during the night, and destroyed a terrorist armoured personnel carrier with a direct hits from a Brimstone missile.”
Two further Tornado patrols on Monday, November 16, saw a Paveway bomb destroy a mortar position used by ISIL.
A second mission destroyed a heavy machine-gun near Mosul with a Paveway IV, travelled west towards Sinjar and blew up 30 ISIL terrorists who were preparing a counter-attack.
In a blog for The Spectator, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The skill of our RAF pilots and the capability of our aircraft means the UK can conduct the most complex strikes – what is known as dynamic targeting.
“Our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability is second to none.
“We are playing a major part in Iraq but we are prevented from taking the fight to ISIL’s heartland in Syria by a lack of parliamentary authority. The terrible attacks in Paris only underline the very real threat ISIL poses.
“That’s why the government is seeking to build a consensus for extending our operations so we strike at its core, not the periphery.”