Royal Air Force Typhoon
Royal Air Force Typhoon (Picture: MOD).

First air-to-air strike by RAF since Falklands carried out in Syria

Royal Air Force Typhoon
Royal Air Force Typhoon (Picture: MOD).

A small hostile drone has been shot down over Syria, marking the first operational air-to-air engagement by an RAF Typhoon jet and the first time the RAF has downed an enemy aircraft since the Falklands War.

The unprecedented event also marked the first RAF air-to-air missile firing during Operation Shader – the UK's contribution to the fight against so-called Islamic State (IS).

The drone was detected above At Tanf Coalition base, Syria, and, according to the Ministry of Defence (MOD), as the drone continued on its track "it became clear it posed a threat to coalition forces".

It was the first British air-to-air strike of its nature since the Falklands almost 40 years ago, when RAF Harriers downed Argentine Skyhawks.

Watch: Fighting ISIS – an RAF pilot's high-risk world.

The RAF Typhoons were conducting routine patrols in the area and were asked to investigate.

Despite the small size of the drone making it a challenging target, it was successfully shot down using an Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missile (ASRAAM).

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the strike "is an impressive demonstration of the RAF's ability to take out hostile targets in the air which pose a threat to our forces".

"We continue to do everything we can alongside our coalition partners to stamp out the terrorist threat and protect our personnel and our partners."