A “small number” of Royal Air Force Panavia GR4 Tornado combat aircraft have been deployed to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, where they will be positioned to support aid deliveries to displaced refugees in Iraq.

The aircraft left RAF Marham in Norfolk on 12 August fitted with the Rafael Litening III reconnaissance and targeting pod, and are being deployed to provide surveillance support to logistics aircraft delivering aid to stranded Iraqis.

RAF Tornado Iraq Litening III

Crown Copyright

The aircraft will be in easy reach of Iraq, where civilians are stranded on Mount Sinjar after fleeing their homes as a result of an insurgent uprising in the region.

The RAF has also deployed two Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules tactical transports to deliver aid packages. An initial delivery attempt was aborted because it was not safe to release the supplies.

The Tornados will support future drops by surveying the area to ensure it is safe, while the government also confirmed that a "small number" of RAF CH-47 Chinook helicopters are to be deployed to the region on stand-by in case they are required for "further relief options".

Three aid payloads have been delivered by the RAF to date. The most recent airdrop took place on 12 August, delivering some 9,000 5 litre water bottles and 816 solar lanterns.

It is believed that thousands of people have been rescued from the mountainside, although many more remain stranded.

Source: FlightGlobal.com