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RAF Typhoon shoots down ‘hostile' drone over Syria

A file photo of an RAF Typhoon launching an ASRAAM missile. On 14 December the service scored its first aerial victory in decades when it downed a ‘hostile' drone over Syria. (Crown Copyright)

A Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 combat aircraft shot down a “small hostile drone” over Syria, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on 16 December.

According to the MoD, the incident on 14 December saw a Typhoon destroy the drone, “which posed a threat to coalition forces in the [Tanf] area”, firing a single MBDA AIM-132 Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM).

“This unprecedented event was the first operational air-to-air engagement conducted by an RAF Typhoon, and also the first RAF air-to-air missile firing during Operation ‘Shader' – the UK's contribution to the global coalition against Daesh,” the MoD said.

For the air-to-air role, RAF Typhoons are typically armed with two ASRAAMs, as well as four longer ranged Raytheon AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile or MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (while RAF Typhoons have been seen performing the NATO Baltic Air-Policing Mission with the Meteor, the same is not yet true for ‘Shader'). They are also equipped with an internal Mauser BK-27 27 mm cannon.

Details about the size or type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) were not released, but the MoD's reference to ‘a small drone' suggests that it was a relatively unsophisticated type commonly used by groups in Syria to carry small bombs and other explosives. In October the same coalition base that appeared to have been targeted in this latest incident was struck by multiple small drones in an attack that the Pentagon attributed to groups backed by Iran.

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