RAF Typhoon marks first air-to-air kill over Syria

A Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon has shot down an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) while airborne over Syria, marking the first operational air-to-air engagement conducted by the type in UK service and the first air-to-air missile firing during Operation Shader.

A December 16 release the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), which described the UAV as “small” and “hostile”, stated that the incident took place on December 14 while the RAF Typhoon was operating in support of Operation Shader, the UK’s ongoing efforts to counter the so-called Islamic State in Syria.

RAF Typhoon
RAF Typhoons regularly support Operation Shader, with the recent incident marking the first air-to-air kill of the type in UK service. UK MOD/Crown copyright

According to the MOD the drone was detected above the At Tanf Coalition base in Syria, resulting in RAF Typhoons being tasked to investigate. The UAV was engaged after “it became clear it posed a threat to Coalition forces” using an Advanced Short-Range Air to Air Missile (ASRAAM) system.

Operation Shader began more than seven years ago on August 9, 2014, when the RAF began a series of humanitarian air drops onto Mount Sinjar in Northern Iraq, as Islamic State forces took control of large areas of the country and its neighbour, Syria.

A bloody ground campaign backed by US, UK and other Coalition air power eventually effected a strategic defeat on Islamic State, a conflict that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and millions more displaced during the fighting and ensuing destruction.

Despite the defeat at the hands Iraqi, Syrian and Coalition forces, remnants of Islamic State nevertheless continue to pose a threat.