UK F-35B jets to join fight against ISIS in Iraq, Syria

A 617 Squadron F-35B Lightning prepares to land aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth on May 2, 2021 (Photo: MoD)
A 617 Squadron F-35B Lightning prepares to land aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth on May 2, 2021 (Photo: MoD)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United Kingdom will for the first time deploy F-35B Lightning jets to fight ISIS in both Iraq and Syria in its role as part of the US-led coalition to defeat the extremist organization. 

Other British aircraft have conducted previous missions against ISIS in both countries, but this is the first time its F-35B multi-role combat aircraft will join the UK portion of the mission, known as Operation Shader. The planes will operate from the warship HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a press statement this week that the deployment would be the first time its F-35B jets are embarked on an operational aircraft carrier deployment since 2010 and will be the largest number of F-35Bs ever to sail the seas.

The 617 Squadron RAF (‘The Dambusters’) will operate the jets to provide tangible and impactful support to counter-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria.

“The F-35B Lightning jets will pack a potent punch against Daesh (ISIS) and help prevent them from regaining a foothold in Iraq,” Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey MP said in the statement.

He added: “This is a prime example of the UK Armed Forces stepping forward with our allies to confront persistent threats around the world. It is Global Britain in action.”

The ministry said that, although March 2021 saw the second anniversary of ISIS’s loss of territory in Syria, the serious threat posed by the group and its followers continues.

“There remain significant numbers of Daesh (ISIS) terrorists in Iraq and Syria,” the Ministry, concluding, “The UK remains committed to defeating Daesh and enhancing security in the region, alongside the Iraqi Security Forces and our NATO allies.”

The United Kingdom has provided military training, humanitarian, and logistics support to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region since 2015.

Editing by John J. Catherine