Even though the Royal Air Force
was engaged in the humanitarian relief efforts over Mount Sinjar, the United Kingdom initiated formal military action against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq on 26 September 2014. That was subsequently extended into Syria with Tornado GR4 aircraft operating out of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. A freedom of information request by Drone Wars UK
has revealed that the total cost of Operation Shader has reached £1.76 billion.
The Paveway IV has proven the most commonly used weapon in the campaign with 2,329 of the bombs dropped to date. Each one has a £70,000 price tag, bringing the overall cost of the munition's use in the conflict to £163 million. The Storm Shadow cruise missile is the most expensive piece of weaponry used by the UK
against ISIS with each missile costing £800,000. Eight of them have been fired so far with four used on one occasion by Tornado GR4s to destroy a reinforced bunker in June 2016. All in all, the weapons bill comes to £267.74 million.
Modern fighter jets are complicated and extremely expensive to keep in the air. So far, RAF Tornados GR4s have flown 12,309 hours during Operation Shader. The aircraft has an hourly flying cost of £35,000 bringing total hourly costs to £430.92 million. Interestingly, the more modern Typhoon has a far higher hourly operating cost of £80,000. Up until now, the deployment of the Typhoon to the Middle East has cost a whopping £997 million.