RAF Tornados likely heading to Iraq in non combat role

RAF Tornado fighters will be used Photo: PA

By Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship

It seems the Ministry of Defence is poised to announce the deployment of RAF Tornados into Iraq.

Under pressure over its response to the threat of genocide in Iraq, the government held another emergency COBRA meeting this morning.

The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond insisted this afternoon that he could not foresee a combat role for UK forces in the near future.

The Tornado jets will not be used to strike targets however. Their role is likely to be one of surveillance rather than combat.

The two-man jets are equipped with RAPTOR pods (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod Tornado) which allows the Tornado pilot to transmit real-time, high quality images of the situation on the ground.

That information is likely to be used by American forces who are carrying out air strikes in the area.

Last night, an RAF C-130 transport plane had to abort its mission to air drop supplies to those fleeing Islamic militants on Mount Sinjar.

It was deemed too dangerous to drop the humanitarian aid because of the numbers of people on the ground below.

The equipment on the Tornados will also be able to help build a picture of where the militants are concentrated and how the crowds could find a safe route off the mountain.

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