Iraq: Typhoons use Storm Shadow missiles in air strikes against IS

The aircraft struck several cave systems occupied by so-called Islamic State terrorists, using Storm Shadow missiles for the first time.

Royal Air Force Typhoons have carried out a series of air strikes in northern Iraq.

The RAF conducted the strikes using Storm Shadow missiles for the first time and Paveway IV bombs.

The strikes began on Wednesday and carried on until Friday, with a follow-on strike on Sunday.

They acted as part of the Counter Daesh Coalition, in support of Iraqi ground forces, according to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

The first target was a cave system south-west of the city of Erbil in northern Iraq, identified by Iraqi forces.

They were assessed by the MOD to be particularly difficult targets.

Two RAF Typhoon FGR4s were tasked to conduct strikes, using Storm Shadow missiles for the first time in support of ground forces from the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service.

The missiles, developed primarily for stealth strikes by UK and French forces, are capable of engaging the targets precisely in any weather conditions during day and night and boast long-range low attitude paths combined with subsonic speed.

Following the mission, it was confirmed the Typhoon's weapons struck their targets precisely.

Further surveillance showed two additional locations in the same area were also occupied by so-called Islamic State (IS). 

The strikes, using Storm Shadow missiles and Paveway IV bombs, targeted several cave systems in northern Iraq (Picture: RAF).

On Thursday, two Typhoons conducted precision attacks on the extremists at both locations, using six Paveway IV guided bombs. 

RAF aircraft struck another group of caves used by so-called IS on Friday, with eight Paveway IV bombs.

On Sunday, in the same remote, mountainous area six Paveway IVs were used against so-called IS-held caves.

"On each occasion, our aircrew have exercised their utmost care in checking there were no signs of civilians in the area before conducting the strikes and subsequent surveillance to ensure their successful completion," said an MOD statement.

The latest UK air strikes follow recent airstrikes in the region last month and attacks against militant fighters in northern Iraq in January.

Operation Shader is the operational code name used for the UK contribution to the US-led mission against so-called Islamic State.

The British operation began in Iraq on 26 September 2014 following a formal request for assistance by the Iraqi government.

Cover image: MOD.