Syria air strikes: RAF used ‘fire and forget’ missiles to minimise risk

Latest news

    RAF Tornado with island in the backgroundImage copyright MOD
    Image caption An RAF Tornado returns to its Cyprus base in 2014

    The RAF crews involved in the overnight strikes on a Syrian chemical weapons target were well prepared for this operation.

    For the past three years they’ve regularly been carrying out bombing missions against the group known as Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. For that they’ve been able to fly directly over targets in uncontested airspace dropping Paveway bombs or firing their smaller Brimstone missiles.

    But this time there were greater risks. Unlike IS, both the Syrian regime and its ally Russia have sophisticated air defences. If the RAF Tornados flew directly over their target there was the added danger they’d become a target too.

    That’s why they used their Stormshadow cruise missiles. These “fire and forget” weapons can be pre-programmed. They use GPS mapping to find their target and have a range of up to 300 miles. The RAF Tornados which can carry two Stormshadows could stay well clear of any threat.

    The Stormshadow was first used in anger during the Iraq invasion in 2003. More recently it’s been fired during the campaign to remove Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi and on a rare occasion against IS too.

    The cruise missile is 5m long, weighs 1300kg and flies at speeds up to 1000km/h.

    It’s difficult to shoot down. Once fired from the Tornado it would have flown low. When close to the target it climbs before making a final dive to penetrate its target before setting off the main warhead.

    In the past, the Stormshadow has been used to hit hardened targets such as concrete bunkers.

    The target this time was a chemical weapons facility 15 miles west of Homs. The Ministry of Defence says it believes the Assad regime had been using the former missiles base to store the precursors to make chemical weapons.

    Both Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and the prime minister say they believe the strike was a “success”, although it’ll take time to analyse satellite imagery to make the final Battle Damage Assessment.

    In terms of the quantity of missiles, the eight fired by Britain was well behind the US and France.

    But these strikes were not just a show of force. They were a a show of solidarity with allies trying to make a stand against the use of chemical weapons.

    View the original article:

    In the same category are

    Boy aged three injured in ‘acid attack’ in Worcester Image copyright West Mercia Police Image caption Police released CCTV images of three men they want to speak to about the incident A three-year-ol...
    UKTV: Dave and Gold among channels dropped by Virgin Media Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Taskmaster featuring Alex Horne and Greg Davies is one of Dave's most popular shows Fans of Taskmaster ...
    Trump-Putin: Top US spy retracts ‘awkward response’ Image copyright Reuters Image caption Dan Coats has downplayed his "awkward response" to news of a second Trump-Putin summit The head of US intell...
    Supergirl to feature TV’s first transgender superhero Image copyright Getty Images Supergirl is to become the first live-action TV series to feature a transgender superhero.Activist and actor Nicole Mai...
    Syria conflict: Israel evacuates ‘White Helmets’ Image copyright Reuters Image caption Members of the White Helmets operating in Aleppo in northern Syria Israel has evacuated members of a Syrian ...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.