RAF Typhoon pilots smash Isis mountain cave network in Iraq

The RAF has helped clear a stronghold of the ISIS in Iraq after a 10-day operation using missiles and bombs, according to the Ministry of Defence.

The air force worked in conjunction with Iraqi Security Forces ground troops and other coalition aircraft to clear ISIS forces from the Makhmur mountain region, south west of Erbil in northern Iraq, the MoD said in a statement.

The operation came to a head on March 22 when ISIS extremists were confirmed to be based in a network of caves in the Makhmur mountains.

On March 22, three RAF Typhoon FGR4s launched Storm Shadow cruise missiles at a group of ISIS terrorists hiding in caves in northern Iraq

It was the first time the Storm Shadow was launched from a Typhoon at an enemy target

It was the first time the Storm Shadow was launched from a Typhoon at an enemy target

It was the first time the Storm Shadow was launched from a Typhoon at an enemy target 

The high-tech cruise missiles pictured getting loaded on this Typhoon have a range of 150 miles, meaning the

The high-tech cruise missiles pictured getting loaded on this Typhoon have a range of 150 miles, meaning the

The high-tech cruise missiles pictured getting loaded on this Typhoon have a range of 150 miles, meaning the 

The Storm Shadow missiles could have been launched from 150 miles from the target if the Typhoons were operating in co-ordination with a drone keeping the area under surveillance

The Storm Shadow missiles could have been launched from 150 miles from the target if the Typhoons were operating in co-ordination with a drone keeping the area under surveillance

The Storm Shadow missiles could have been launched from 150 miles from the target if the Typhoons were operating in co-ordination with a drone keeping the area under surveillance

‘Three Typhoon FGR4s were tasked to conduct an attack using Storm Shadow missiles, the remote area having first been checked to ensure that no civilians would be placed at risk,’ the MoD said.

The heavy-duty cruise missiles are ideal for attacking concrete or rock structures such as caves.  

Subsequent surveillance found the operation to have been a success.

‘The British Armed Forces, alongside our Iraqi and Coalition partners, continue to root out Daesh (IS) terrorists from where they hide,’ Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

‘The UK is committed to defeating Daesh. This operation will prevent the terrorist group and its toxic ideology from regaining a foothold in Iraq and reduce its capability to coordinate attacks around the world.’

The RAF also used Paveway IV bombs during the attack, which was the first to use Storm Shadow cruise missiles in Typhoon RGR4 aircraft.

In a separate operation last Sunday, an RAF Reaper armed with Hellfire missiles completed a successful strike on a small ISIS camp in northern Syria, some 50 miles west of Al Hasakah, the MoD said.

A spokesperson said that while ISIS has been ‘territorially defeated’, some 10,000 terrorists are still at large in Syria and Iraq.

‘The UK, together with 81 partner nations of the Global Coalition, therefore remains committed to working with Iraq to not only defeat Daesh but to also enhance security in the region,’ the MoD statement said.

According to the MoD: ‘On Monday 15 March, two Typhoons successfully attacked a cave used by Daesh with Paveway IV guided bombs, and later that day a second Typhoon flight struck two more Daesh-held caves with Paveways. Two more caves, in which Daesh had established a presence, were hit with Paveway IVs on Tuesday 16 March, and a further two such caves were destroyed in like manner on Wednesday 17 March.

‘All of the caves were located in a remote, mountainous area, but nevertheless, very careful checks were made before each strike to ensure that there were no signs of civilians who might be placed at risk.’ 

The Storm Shadow cruise missile was first used on an RAF Tornado before modifications were made so it could be used on the Eurofighter Typhoon

The Storm Shadow cruise missile was first used on an RAF Tornado before modifications were made so it could be used on the Eurofighter Typhoon

The Storm Shadow cruise missile was first used on an RAF Tornado before modifications were made so it could be used on the Eurofighter Typhoon

The Storm Shadow cruise missile

Storm Shadow is described as a ‘long-range deep-strike weapon’ by MBDA systems, which produces the missile.

The company states on its website that it is ‘designed to meet the demanding requirements of pre-planned attacks against high-value fixed or stationary targets’.

A Storm Shadow missile is prepared for loading to a Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft

A Storm Shadow missile is prepared for loading to a Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft

A Storm Shadow missile is prepared for loading to a Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft

Weighing in at 2,866lb (1,300kg), measuring 16.7ft (5.1m) in length and with a range in excess of 150 miles (240km), it is operated from Tornado jets and in future will be carried on Eurofighter Typhoons.

The long-range air-to-surface missile, designed as a ‘bunker buster’, can be used to penetrate underground facilities.

It was first brought into service in 2003 and has previously been described by the RAF as ‘arguably the most advanced weapon of its kind in the world’.

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