The UK Royal Air Force has used MBDA dual-mode Brimstone laser-guided air-to-surface missiles against Islamic State militants in Syria for the first time, as the campaign in the region moves towards countering moving targets.
Carried by the Panavia Tornado GR4, the Brimstone saw its first use in the Syrian phase of the UK's Operation Shader on 10 January. Since the RAF began air strikes in the country late last year, the type had previously used Raytheon Systems' 226kg (500lb)-class Paveway IV laser-guided bomb.
“Near Raqqa, a pair of Tornados bombed a pair of Daesh-held buildings, one of which was a confirmed command and control centre, and used a Brimstone missile to destroy a supply truck,” the Ministry of Defence says of the 10 January mission.
Because of the incorporation of its dual-mode seeker, Brimstone benefits from being able to counter moving targets, which the mission in Iraq and Syria is seemingly moving to, after months of largely targeting IS-claimed infrastructure.
The Brimstone-carrying Tornado worked alongside the RAF’s General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper unmanned air vehicle, which also used its Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles to attack mobile cranes that IS was using to repair earlier air strike damage.
Recent missions also marked 1,000 sorties in support of Operation Shader for the RAF’s Reaper fleet, which was first deployed to Iraq in October 2014.