The UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Tornado aircraft squadron is set to extend the country’s campaign against ISIL in Iraq for an additional year until March 2017.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that 12 Bomber Squadron will continue to provide the Iraqi ground forces with essential precision firepower, intelligence and surveillance required to combat ISIL.
Fallon said: "Our aircraft have flown thousands of missions and RAF Tornados have carried out hundreds of strikes, helping Iraqi forces push back ISIL from the Kurdish region and out of key towns such as Tikrit and Bayji.
"We want to ensure we maintain this crucial operational tempo and so we will extend the lifetime of Number 12 Squadron for a further year to March 2017. This will allow us to sustain our effort, helping the Iraqis lead the fight on the ground."
Eight Tornados currently conduct daily missions, performing a significant role in tackling ISIL in Iraq.
RAF’s Tornado GR4 all-weather attack aircraft is installed with precision-guided Paveway bombs and Brimstone missiles that support high-precision attacks alongside low collateral damage.
In addition, the twin engine, variable-sweep wing combat aircraft is equipped with the Raptor reconnaissance pod that increases the effectiveness of the aircraft in a surveillance role.
Air Staff chief, air chief marshal Sir Andrew Pulford said: "It is clear that the requirement for fast jet precision strike and intelligence gathering shows no sign of diminishing; extending the life of Number 12 Bomber Squadron will allow the Royal Air Force to continue to provide a unique and hugely valuable contribution to the coalition fight against Daesh."
The UK Ministry of Defence figures, released in May, revealed it spent more than £13m in military operations against ISIL in Iraq using drones and RAF bombers.
Image: RAF’s Tornado squadron will continue its campaign against ISIL in Iraq until March 2017. Photo: courtesy of Royal Air Force / Crown copyright.