On Tuesday, a British Eurofighter Typhoon shot down a small unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the Islamic State, achieving the first air-to-air kill for the Royal Air Force since the Falklands War in 1982.
The British aircraft shot down the enemy drone after it was deemed that it posed a danger to coalition troops on the ground.
On December 14, a pair of Eurofighter Typhoons were conducting an air combat patrol near the At Tanf coalition base in Syria when an unidentified unmanned aerial vehicle was spotted on the radar.
Coalition troops continued to track the drone as it made its way to the At Tanf. As it became clear that it was a hostile drone and that potentially going to strike, the Eurofighter Typhoons were vectored in and greenlighted to shoot it down.
Once in range, the British aircraft fired an AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missile (ASRAAM) and hit it despite the drone’s small size.
“This strike is an impressive demonstration of the RAF’s ability to take out hostile targets in the air which pose a threat to our forces. We continue to do everything we can alongside our Coalition partners to stamp out the terrorist threat and protect our personnel and our partners,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a press release.
The incident was full of firsts. In addition to being the first air combat kill for the Royal Air Force since the Falklands War, the shooting down of the Islamic State is the first kill air-to-air kill for the British Eurofighter Typhoon and the first time a British aircraft launched an air-to-air missile during the almost seven-year war against the Islamic State.
A few weeks ago, the Royal Air Force had achieved another hit against the fledging terrorist group when an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft launched AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles against an ISIS target.
The British air contribution to the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State began in 2015 after the British parliament approved airstrikes inside Syria, arguing that the Syrian Civil War had negated any notion of Syrian statehood and that the Islamic State moved freely between Iraq and Syria without any regard for borders.
The U.K. has contributed the most in the war against the Islamic State and its odious practices behind the U.S.
British aircraft flying more the Royal Air Force base in Akrotiri in Cyprus have conducted more than 8,000 missions, with 1,000 airstrikes, deploying more than 4,300 bombs and missiles against ground—and now air—targets.
The majority of combat missions have been completed by GR1 Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets and MQ-9 Reaper drones.
Now 1945s National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist and military expert specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.