Weapons the US, UK and France used to target Syria

The United States combined with the armed forces of the United Kingdom and France early Saturday to carry out airstri...

Posted: Apr 15, 2018 6:20 PM
Updated: Apr 15, 2018 6:20 PM

The United States combined with the armed forces of the United Kingdom and France early Saturday to carry out airstrikes against the chemical weapons facilities maintained by the regime of Syria. Here are some of the weapons they used:

UK Tornado fighters

Britain contributed four Tornado fighter jets armed with Storm Shadow cruise missiles to the operation, the UK's Ministry of Defense said. Officials later said Typhoon fighter jets also participated in the mission.

The jets took off from RAF Akrotiri, the Royal Air Force base on Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, and targeted a Syrian chemical weapons site in Homs, the British Ministry of Defense said.

The twin-engine Tornado GR4 is the United Kingdom's main ground-attack aircraft, and they were armed with Storm Shadow missiles, an air-launched weapon that carries a 400-kilogram (900-pound) warhead as far as 400 kilometers (250 miles). That means the Tornadoes will not have been required to fly far, and would not have needed to cross into Syrian airspace to launch their strikes.

The British jets fired a total of eight Storm Shadow missiles, Pentagon officials said.

French Rafale jets

The office of French President Emmanuel Macron posted video on Twitter of its Rafale fighter jets taking off for the Syria mission.

The French defense minister, Florence Parly, said the jets flew from bases in France. Like the British Tornado, the twin-engine Rafale could be armed with Storm Shadow missiles that can fly for more than 250 miles.

This means jets could strike without having to fly over Syria and avoid anti-aircraft defenses.

US officials said French Mirage jets were also used in the attack and that the French aircraft fired a total of nine missiles.

US B-1 bombers

Pentagon officials said the US Air Force used two B-1B bombers in the Syria strike.

The four-engine B-1s fired 19 air-launched JASSM cruise missiles, which carry 450-kilogram (1,000-pound) warheads and have a range of more than 370 kilometers (230 miles). That means the B-1s would not have needed to expose themselves to Syrian air defenses to make their strikes.

The defense sources did not say from where the B-1s flew, but Air Force media earlier this month showed the bombers arriving at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, on the Arabian peninsula.

US guided-missile cruisers, destroyers and submarines

The Pentagon said three US warships and one submarine using Tomahawk cruise missiles participated in the Syria strikes.

From the Red Sea, the cruiser USS Monterey fired 30 Tomahawks and the destroyer USS Laboon launched seven more.

Meanwhile, the destroyer USS Higgins fired 23 Tomahawks from the North Arabian Gulf.

The attack submarine USS John Warner fired six Tomahawks from the Mediterranean Sea.

The US Navy's Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Virginia-class submarines carry dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of up to 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles).

Tomahawk cruise missile

The Tomahawk cruise missile has been the military's go-to weapon in operations such as the one conducted Saturday. It was also used a year ago when the United States fired nearly 60 Tomahawks at a Syrian airbase following a previous use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.

The Tomahawk is carried by the dozens by US and British warships, including cruisers, destroyers and submarines, and is capable of delivering a 1,000-pound warhead.

It is designed to fly extremely low and can navigate around defenses using its on-board guidance systems. Its target can also be changed mid-flight through communication with controllers.

French frigates and cruise missiles

France fired three cruises missiles from one its multimission frigates in the Syria strikes, the Pentagon said.

The multimission frigates are some of the newest in the French naval fleet and are armed with the MdCN (Missile de Croisi-re Naval) cruise missile, with 16 launch tubes for them on each ship.

The range of the missiles is secret. The missile's manufacturer describes them as having "very long range" while various industry websites put the range at 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).

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