A file photo of an RAF Typhoon launching an ASRAAM missile. On 14 December the service scored its first aerial victory in decades when it downed a ‘hostile’ drone over Syria. (Crown Copyright)
A Royal Air Force Typhoon jet has shot down a “small hostile drone” over Syria, the Ministry of Defence says.
It is the first time the British military has downed another enemy aircraft since the Falklands War nearly 40 years ago.
The MoD said the drone – which was shot on 14 December – “posed a threat” to coalition forces fighting the Islamic State group in southern Syria.
It did not say which hostile group was operating the drone.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the strike was “an impressive demonstration of the RAF’s ability to take out hostile targets in the air”.
Two FGR4 jets were on a routine patrol from their base in Cyprus when they were asked to investigate the small drone on Tuesday.
The pilots identified and destroyed it using an advanced short-range air-to-air missile called Asraam.
The incident took place near the Al Tanf coalition military base, close to the border with Iraq.
An Asraam missile, which costs around £200,000 and has a range of 12-15 miles, flies at supersonic speed – faster than the speed of sound.
Defence sources told the BBC this engagement would likely have been a relatively close encounter – possibly with the aircrew in line of sight of the much slower flying drone.
It is the first operational air-to-air engagement conducted by an RAF Typhoon, and the first such engagement by the UK’s air force over Iraq or Syria.