The renowned “Dambusters” squadron is set to fly stealth fighter jets to support operations against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.
The Ministry of Defence said the F35B Lightning fast jets will join Operation Shader from the Carrier Strike Group to fight the “remnants” of IS, also known as Daesh.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said he was in no doubt “violent extremism and the toxic ideology underpinning it is still rooted” in the region.
He added: “We’re going to conduct operations in support of the government of Iraq, fighting the remnants of Daesh in Iraq and Syria – and continuing to take the fight to them in their sanctuary where otherwise they would be threatening the streets of the United Kingdom and our allies.
“It’s something that air power has been doing very effectively now since 2014 and the Royal Air Force has played a considerable part in that success.
“Daesh is no longer the ground-holding force, the occupying force, that it was in 2015 and 2016.
“For the last two years we have been identifying pockets where they have dug in to strongholds in the mountains in remote areas, and have been helping the government of Iraq to clear out those remnants.”
Eight RAF and 10 US Marine Corps F35B stealth fighter jets will be operating from on board HMS Queen Elizabeth and will be accompanied by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.
The F35B jets are multi-role combat aircraft equipped with advanced sensors, mission systems and stealth technology – enabling them to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “The F35B Lightning jets will pack a potent punch against Daesh and help prevent them from regaining a foothold in Iraq.
“This is a prime example of the UK armed forces stepping forward with our allies to confront persistent threats around the world.”
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