28 Feb 17. Iraq and Syria: OP SHADER. On 23 Feb 17 Tornados bombed a Daesh mortar team inside Western Mosul. On the following day, in the same area, a Reaper destroyed three truck-bombs while a Tornado attacked a mortar position. On 26 Feb 17 Tornados attacked a terrorist group to the West of Mosul as well as eliminating seven armoured vehicles.
On 27 Feb 17 Tornados engaged a mortar team in Mosul and a Daesh tank in Palmyra as a Reaper supported coalition air strikes at Al Qaim and destroyed an anti-aircraft gun. (MoD, 28 Feb 17.)
When asked for a progress report (2 Mar 17) the Armed Forces’ Minister said that Daesh had “already lost some 30% of the territory they once controlled in Syria and our strategy to take the fight to Daesh in both Syria and Iraq is working.”.
Comment: In summary: “As Iraqi forces liberated Mosul Airport and began pushing into the part of the city still held by Daesh, RAF and other coalition aircraft provided continual close air support.”. (MoD, 28 Feb 17.) (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/10, 06 Mar 17)
03 Mar 17. French Naval Deployment: UK Joins In. The Defence Secretary advised (3 Mar 17) that maritime forces are taking part in a major French naval deployment to the Indian Ocean and the Far East. Around 70 RN/RM personnel have joined a French Task Group aboard the assault ship FS MISTRAL for a five-month mission. The deployment includes port calls in Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Japan, Guam and Australia.
Comment: The Defence Secretary was quoted as saying: “Whether deployed together at sea, striking Daesh from the air or contributing to NATO deployments in the Baltics, Britain and France will continue to work hard for our shared security.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/10, 06 Mar 17)
17 Feb 17. South Sudan: Numbers Deploying. The Armed Forces’ Minister confirmed (17 Feb 17) that the UK has some 70 Armed Forces personnel deployed in South Sudan. The number deployed will rise to “almost 400” in the coming months as an engineering task force and medical personnel are deployed to support the UN Mission in the Country.
Comment: An earlier House of Lords Written Answer (13 Dec 16) indicated that the MoD intends to deploy “up to 400” troops to the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Approximately 6% of the UK contingent is expected to be female (compared with a UN peacekeepers average of 3% female). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/10, 06 Mar 17)
04 Mar 17. Submarines: Clarification. In addition to the four Vanguard Class SSBN (Ballistic Missile, Nuclear Powered Submarines) the RN operates seven SSN (Submarine, Attack Nuclear Powered). Four Trafalgar Class SSN remain in service and three Astute Class have entered service. The remaining Trafalgar Class are expected to decommission as indicated:
HMS TORBAY in 2017; HMS TRENCHANT in 2019; HMS TALENT in 2021 and HMS TRIUMPH in 2022. In the Astute Class; HMS ASTUTE, HMS AMBUSH and HMS ARTFUL have entered service and are to be followed by AUDACIOUS, ANSON, AGAMEMNON and AJAX. (AJAX is the provisional name for the seventh boat.)
Comment: The Defence Procurement Minister was ill-briefed when she said (24 Feb 17) that disclosure of the above dates would be likely to prejudice the security of the Armed Forces: the dates have all
been openly published. To compound the misinformation, one specialist publication claimed that “none of the Royal Navy’s seven Astute Class SSNs is currently operational” (without noting that only three of the boats have been built so far). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/10, 06 Mar 17)
02 Mar 17. Sea Skua Missile: End of an Era. The RN announced (2 Mar 17) that Sea Skua had been fired for the last time. With the Lynx helicopter ending its service in March 2017, Sea Skua is also retiring since it is not compatible with Wildcat, the Lynx’s successor. The final Sea Skua firing took place from HMS PORTLAND in the middle of the Atlantic.