The RAF’s Typhoon fighter jet got its first air-to-air kill over Syria
The Eurofighter Typhoon is an air superiority fighter aircraft manufactured by a consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo. As its name implies, the Typhoon is a multinational collaboration among the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Its combat debut came in 2011 during the military intervention in Libya with the UK's RAF and the Italian Air Force. Although it proved itself to be a capable ground-attack aircraft, the Typhoon was designed to be a dogfighter.
On December 14, 2021, according to a Ministry of Defence press release, an RAF Typhoon FGR.Mk4 shot down a hostile drone over Syria that posed a threat to Coalition forces in the area. This was the first operational air-to-air engagement conducted by an RAF Typhoon and the first RAF air-to-air missile shot of Operation SHADER, the UK's contribution to the fight against ISIS. "This strike is an impressive demonstration of the RAF’s ability to take out hostile targets in the air which pose a threat to our forces," said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in the press release. "We continue to do everything we can alongside our Coalition partners to stamp out the terrorist threat and protect our personnel and our partners."
Leading up to the engagement, drone activity was detected above the At Tanf Coalition base in Syria. As the drone was tracked, it became clear that it posed a threat to Coalition forces. RAF Typhoons conducting routine patrols in the area were sent to intercept it. Although technologically inferior to the Typhoon, the drone's small size made it a difficult target, even for the advanced fighter. However, an RAF pilot was able to secure a lock on the hostile drone and shot it down with an AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile.
The RAF's engagement is similar to one conducted by the U.S. Air Force earlier in 2021. On August 21, an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter bomber shot down a drone deemed to be a threat over Syria as well. The F-15E also used a similar weapon, the AIM-9X Sidewinder Short Range Air-to-Air Missile, to take the drone down. Although the Global Coalition has liberated 8 million people across nearly 70,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria, ISIS remains a threat that the US, UK, and other allies continue to fight.