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UK purchases 20 Tomahawk missiles ahead of ISIS operation

The $32-million transaction comes after a majority of British MPs voted in favor of joining U.S.-led efforts against ISIS

Published: Updated:

In preparation to join the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, the United Kingdom has purchased 20 Tomahawk missiles from the United States, the Daily Mail reported on Friday.

The $32-million transaction comes after a majority of British MPs voted in favor of joining U.S.-led efforts against the militant group, namely in the form of airstrikes in Iraq.

Tomahawk missiles, fired from submarines and can turn around a corner upon a computer command, have been used by the U.S. and Arab states in their bombardment of ISIS.

The missiles can hover around above a target for more than two hours and can be retargeted while in flight, the Mail said, adding that the newly-acquired weaponry will be used by the British army in Operation Shader.

While the strikes are limited to ISIS targets in Iraq, Operation Shader will be directed from a bunker in the al-Udeid airbase in Qatar where it will be linked directly to U.S. Central Command. Targets will be drawn from a list compiled by the U.S. military but the Royal Air Force will also survey the ground for mobile ISIS units prior to issuance of orders to strike.

British Special Forces units known as Smash teams have already conducted reconnaissance to provide up-to-date information on the militants, the Mail said.

Beyond the air strikes

British forces will reportedly use a technique called ‘painting a target’ in which a site is pinpointed to be struck using a laser beam from a portable device that bounces off a structure a few hundred meters away detected by an aircraft or a missile sensor which deploys the weapon.

Operation Shader will also make use of Tornados, warplanes flown by the RAF will also fly Tornados in both Gulf Wars and Afghanistan, and will carry Paveway bombs for small targets, Storm Shadow bunker busters and supersonic Brimstone missiles capable of targeting and hitting moving objects like cars or motorbikes.