The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to deploy GR4 Tornado fighters in northern Iraq to support the country’s ongoing humanitarian assistance mission.
The aircraft will soon leave Royal Air Force (RAF) Marham in Norfolk, and fly to Iraq, where RAF C-130 crew had to abort their second airdrop over concerns for the safety of civilians trapped on Mount Srinjar.
A Downing Street spokesperson said the UK is committed to further aid drops in the coming days and is looking for a long-term solution that safely delivers the aid to those on the mountains.
The spokesperson said: "We continue to work with international partners on options for doing this, including how we can develop a better picture of the number of people on the mountain and their exact locations.
"As part of that work, we have decided to pre-position a small number of Tornados in the region so that they could, if required, use their excellent surveillance capability to gather better situational awareness to help with humanitarian effort.
"This would be similar to the role the Tornado played in the UK earlier this year, gathering information on the areas affected by the severe floods."
RAF has so far made two air drops comprising reusable water containers filled with clean water and solar lanterns on Mount Srinjar, where tens of thousands of Yazidi community residents are currently stranded due to the Islamic State (IS) offensive.
The US C-17 and C-130 aircraft are also engaged in humanitarian air drops in northern Iraq, while Australia has offered two C-130 Hercules to aid the US in the mission.
Since last week, the US F/A-18, F-15E and MQ-1 Predators have conducted 15 targeted airstrikes on IS positions to protect US citizens and forces in and around the Iraqi city of Erbil.
Joint Staff operations director Army Lieutenant General William Mayville said: "The strikes are unlikely to affect IS’ overall capabilities or its operations in other areas of Iraq and Syria."
The US is also believed to have started urgent weapon shipments to the Iraqi Kurdish forces engaged in combat with IS militants.
US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told CNN: "We’re working with the Government of Iraq to increasingly and very quickly get urgently needed arms to the Kurds.
"This includes the Iraqis providing their own weapons from their own stocks and we’re working to do the same thing from our stocks of weapons that we have."
Image: RAF crew prepare aid for drop. Photo: courtesy of Crown copyright.