31 May 16. Iraq and Syria: OP SHADER. On 24 May 16 Tornados, Typhoons and a Reaper supported Iraqi ground forces, destroying three Daesh positions and three weapon stockpiles. On the following day, Typhoons provided close air support in the area between Ramadi and Fallujah. Typhoons continued to support operations in the Fallujah area on 26 May 16 as Tornados struck Daesh positions and a tunnel near Mosul. On 27 May 16 Typhoons and a Reaper provided further intensive support around Fallujah. Tornados attacked a terrorist vehicle near Hit on 29 May 16 as Typhoons struck a truck-bomb near Mosul. Tornados and Typhoons attacked terrorist positions on 30 May 16. (MoD, 31 May 16.)
On 31 May 16 Reapers, Typhoons and Tornados provided close air support to the Fallujah offensive, as well as destroying other Daesh targets in Northern and Western Iraq. On the following day, Tornados attacked three
Daesh strong points on the Southern outskirts of Fallujah as Reapers destroyed a terrorist check-point and a rocket launcher. (MoD, 2 Jun 16.)
Comment: On 2 Jun 16, the MoD summarised OP SHADER activities as follows: “With Iraqi ground forces continuing Operations to liberate Fallujah, RAF Tornado GR4s, Typhoon FGR4s and Reapers joined other coalition aircraft in providing intensive close air support.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 16/22, 06 Jun 16)
02 Jun 16. Afghanistan: Current Activity. Visiting Afghanistan, the Defence Secretary announced (2 Jun 16) that the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) had trained over 1,300 Afghan Officer graduates. While the UK’s combat mission in Afghanistan ended in 2014, 450 British troops “continue to play a vital role in the Country.” (In addition to the assistance with the ANAOA, UK personnel provide advisers to the Afghan Security Ministries and to support NATO through the Kabul Security Force.)
The RAF announced (3 Jun 16) that Puma 2 helicopters had been deployed in support of OP TORAL for 15 months. Between 23 Apr and 22 May 16 the Pumas moved 1,950 passengers and 3,890kg of freight in
208 hours of flying. The personnel are mostly from RAF Benson and deploy as a formed unit.
Comment: There has been some media speculation that the UK is in talks to send further troops to Afghanistan. In response, the MoD stated (3 Jun 16): “While we routinely look at the support we and other NATO partners
give Afghanistan, no decisions have been made.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 16/22, 06 Jun 16)
24 May 16. Baltic Air Policing: OP AZOTIZE. In response to a Parliamentary Question, the Reserves. Minister said (24 May 16) that there were 140 UK military personnel and four RAF Typhoon aircraft “currently deployed on NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission”.
Comment: Since the start of the current mission in Estonia, RAF Typhoons have launched seven times to intercept 18 Russian aircraft operating in NATO’s area of interest. In the current deployment the RAF is working
alongside the Portuguese Air Force, operating from Šiauliai in Lithuania. 2016 marks the third consecutive year of Baltic Air Policing for the RAF. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 16/22, 06 Jun 16)
26 May 16. Coastal Defence: Assets and Deployment. During a week of media coverage about illegal migrants crossing the Channel, reference has been made to the UK’s coastal patrol capabilities. The UK’s Border Force has five vessels, two of which are currently deployed to the Aegean in support of EU Frontex operations. On 26 May 16 the Home Office announced that new patrol vessels are to be introduced which will “add to the protection already offered by the Border Force cutters and Royal Navy vessels which patrol the UK coastline.”
Comment: The two Border Force vessels deployed to the Aegean in March 2016 to work alongside a Home Office chartered civilian vessel VOS Grace (which was carrying a detachment of Border Force officers, Royal Marines and a small medical team). The Home Office gave no confir