MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Speaking during a visit to Baghdad, Fallon said the eight Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado combat aircraft had flown a total of 1,162 missions and carried out 251 airstrikes over Iraq from their bases in Cyprus.
“We want to ensure we maintain this crucial operational tempo and so we will extend the lifetime of Number 12 [Bomber] Squadron for a further year to March 2017,” the Press Association quoted Fallon as saying.
The British defense chief ruled out the deployment of ground forces in the US-led anti-ISIL campaign and said Iraqi leadership had not approached the UK with this request.
RAF head, Air Chief Marshal Andrew Pulford, stressed the need for fast jet precision strike and intelligence gathering “shows no sign of diminishing.”
“Extending the life of Number 12 Squadron will allow the RAF to continue to provide a unique and hugely valuable contribution to the coalition fight against Daesh [Arabic designation for ISIL],” Pulford said.
The United Kingdom joined the US-led coalition in September 2014, a month after the United States has launched its airstrikes on ISIL targets in Iraq.
Prime Minister David Cameron initially authorized the 12 Squadron airstrikes until March 2016.