The RAF has spent £37million on bombing raids in its mission to smash ISIS and bring Jihadi John’s network to its knees.
An investigation by MailOnline has unveiled the grand scale of the military effort against the terrorist group, including more than 100 airstrikes and 195 missiles fired.
The bombings, carried out by Britain’s fleet of warplanes and unmanned drones, have targeted more than 180 ISIS positions and have killed dozens of Islamists so far in the six-month campaign.
The bombings, carried out by Britain’s fleet of warplanes and unmanned drones, have targeted more than 180 ISIS positions (above), with some hit multiple times
The raids, under the code name Operation Shader, have covered swathes of Iraq, with the RAF picking off terrorist targets deep inside ISIS territory.
Britain has used Tornado GR4s at least 126 times in attacks on the militants, with each one flown from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus at an estimated cost of £35,000 an hour.
With an average flight time of somewhere between four and eight hours – thanks to the help of Voyager air-to-air refuelling tankers accompanying them on each mission – the total cost quickly racks up to around £26.5million.
Tornados are usually flown in pairs and are equipped with both Brimstone and Paveway IV missiles.
Brimstones – ‘smart bombs’ which can pinpoint small targets in crowded areas – have been fired at least 54 times on trucks, buildings and groups of ISIS terrorists.
The missiles cost £105,000 each and account for another £5.67million spent hunting down members of the barbaric group.
Britain has used Tornado GR4s at least 126 times in attacks on the militants, with each raid flown from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus in pairs (file picture)
Weapons: At least 66 500lb Paveways have been dropped on ISIS in Iraq by the eight RAF Tornados in Iraq
Strike: The targeted bombings have killed dozens of Islamists so far in the six-month campaign
Meanwhile at least 66 500lb Paveways have been dropped on ISIS in Iraq by the eight Tornados the RAF has sent to the region. The heavier weapons are used on larger targets and cost £22,000 each.
Because of the threat posed by Tornados to the Islamists, they have taken to travelling at night or in poor weather to avoid being seen.
But this does not stop Britain’s fleet of 10 unmanned Reaper drones, which can locate and fire on small targets from as high as 45,000ft, from picking off ISIS convoys trying to take advantage of poor visibility.
Reapers, which can fly for up to 30 hours before needing to refuel, have fired on the extremists 75 times during the RAF mission, which started in October last year.
THE RAF BOMBS DROPPED ON ISIS
During 101 airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq, the RAF has fired:
75 Hellfire missiles
66 Paveway IV laser-guided bombs
54 Brimstone missiles
The drones use aptly-named Hellfire missiles, which can incinerate targets in a burst of flames before they are even aware they are being fired upon and cost £46,000 a unit.
The full £37million fight against ISIS does not include the costs of flying the drones, which are each worth around £8.5million, as their operation is shrouded in secrecy.
The Ministry of Defence does not reveal where the drones take off and land, or even where they are ‘piloted’ from – however previous reports suggest they take off from Kuwait and are piloted remotely 4,600 miles away in Lincolnshire.
In all, the 101 missions MailOnline are aware of have destroyed 186 ISIS targets, which includes command points, checkpoints and military convoys.
According to a YouGov poll, more than 60 per cent of the British public approve of the bombings in Iraq.
This is a 10 per cent rise from in September, showing the continued released of brutal snuff videos by the terrorists, such as the sickening beheadings by Jihadi John, unveiled last month as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi, have only caused the public to further back the UK mission.
Critics have called for the RAF mission to be stepped up, despite David Cameron insisting that Britain’s role in Iraq is second only to that of the U.S..
Aerial attack: Reapers, which can fly for up to 30 hours before needing to refuel, have fired on the extremists 75 times during the RAF mission
The Commons Defence Committee said the RAF’s role in Iraq was ‘surprisingly modest’ and that the air force was only carrying out one strike a day.
Dr Afzal Ashraf, from the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, said the RAF could only play a limited part in the fight against ISIS without the help of boots on the ground.
He said: ‘The RAF plays has a small part of the total campaign against ISIS.
‘They’ve done a good job but the problem with airpower is the target they face. Targets have to be fixed unless aircraft react fast to moving targets. This is particularly an issue with the predominant use of fast jets rather than close air support aircraft.’
‘ISIS have learnt to adapt to the attacks. They very rarely move in broad daylight – they do so in bad weather and in small numbers. This makes it hard for the RAF to find valuable targets.
‘The RAF has done as much as it can because of airpower’s limited and perishable impact. Unless you have ground troops to exploit the impact airpower has, it can’t be sustained.’
Britain has also provided 40 heavy machine guns to the Kurds, who are fighting against ISIS in Iraq, but this pales in significance when compared to Germany, which has sent more than 35,000 weapons to the fighters.
UK forces have provided training to Peshmerga fighters, as well as sending around 400 support personnel to northern Iraq.
While the MoD does not comment on ongoing operations, its latest update on the strikes on ISIS says: ‘Military support is just one part of the UK government’s contribution to the global coalition strategy to defeat ISIL – we are also taking action to counter the terrorist network’s finances, are restricting the flow of foreign fighters and have provided vital humanitarian relief to help those affected by ISIL’s brutality.
‘British military training teams continue to teach infantry and first aid skills to the Kurdish peshmerga, and liaison teams are embedded within Iraqi and coalition headquarters.
‘Having previously provided military equipment to the Iraqi forces, Britain plans to gift improvised explosive device (IED) detectors to help the Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers protect themselves against the numerous improvised explosive devices on which ISIL are increasingly relying as they are forced back by successful offensives.
‘In the Gulf, the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless is operating in direct support of the US Navy’s aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, which provides a significant part of the coalition’s air effort.’