UK may send Apache helicopters to fight against IS

29 October 2014 (Last Updated October 29th, 2014 18:30)

The UK Army's Apache helicopters could be used to conduct air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, according to a UK Government source.

The UK Army's Apache helicopters could be used to conduct air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, according to a UK Government source.

The UK Royal Air Force is already supporting the fight, but an Apache deployment would represent the army's first involvement against IS.

The source was quoted by The Times saying: "What we are seeing is ten-man, two-vehicle teams being tasked through messages on WhatsApp or Facebook.

"We constantly review our options and will carry on scoping what other training and support we can offer in conjunction with the coalition."

"Once they've got their objective, they decide themselves how to meet it [and] what equipment and arms they need, so there's almost no command or control to hit from 20,000ft."

However, a UK Ministry of Defence spokesperson has reportedly said that there are no plans to send the helicopters to Iraq.

The Times quoted her as saying: "We constantly review our options and will carry on scoping what other training and support we can offer in conjunction with the coalition."

Apache helicopters are capable of flying close to the ground at low speeds and this capability would allow forces to easily find and attack targets.

The US has deployed them in the Anbar province in the west of Baghdad, and they have proved their efficiency during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Equipped with a range of sensors and targeting devices, and armed with Hellfire missiles, the helicopters have helped US forces to undertake successful air strikes.

Britain used its Apache fleet in Afghanistan and has recently ended combat operations in Helmand province.

Defence Technology