Analysis: The RAF's Highest Tempo Operation For 25 Years

One arresting fact about the UK's mission against Daesh is that this is the RAF's highest tempo operation for a quarter of a century.Since...

One arresting fact about the UK's mission against Daesh is that this is the RAF's highest tempo operation for a quarter of a century.

Since Operation Shader, as it is known, began in 2014 the RAF has flown more than 3,000 missions and launched over 1,000 airstrikes. 

Pretty much every frontline asset the RAF possesses is now involved in the campaign and the airstrike updates released by the MOD shows the scale of what they are doing. 

What is striking is how many of the airstrikes – particularly around Mosul - are now being conducted by the RAF's unmanned Reapers. 

Known by the military as an RPAS, or Remotely Piloted Air Systems, the UK has 10 Reapers which are flown from the UK and US. 

Each one can be armed with GBU-12 500lb laser-guided bombs and Hellfire missiles.  

As the battle for Mosul becomes more intense and urban they are proving a very effective hunter-killer, able to scour the city for targets, watch them, and then strike if needed. 

In one mission last week Reaper operators spotted a team of IS fighters moving around the city by motorcycle and destroyed them with a Hellfire missile, say the MOD. 

They are also proving particularly good at finding Islamic State mortars teams. 

On Monday last week a Reaper used its surveillance sensors to locate three Daesh mortars as they opened up on Iraqi troops. 

One was destroyed by a coalition jet; the other silenced by artillery fire, and a third was destroyed by the Reaper itself using a GBU-12 guided bomb. 

The Hellfire missiles carried by the Reaper are also being used extensively in Mosul. 

Fitted with a relatively small warhead, they cause low collateral damage, meaning they can be used against IS fighters even if Iraqi troops are close by. 

In its latest update, the MOD say that in one sortie last Sunday RAF Reapers hit Daesh fighters twice during street fighting with Government forces. 

The Reapers' other job over Mosul is providing surveillance for other coalition aircraft, including RAF Tornados and Typhoons. 

In another mission last Sunday a Reaper fed back information about a group of heavily defended buildings, including one containing a group of suicide bombers. 

Coalition jets subsequently launched four attacks on the buildings, all of which, according to the MOD, were successful.  

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