Aircraft and missiles used in the strikes
BEIRUT - A variety of British, French and American aircraft and missiles were used to strike at Syrian targets during the early hours of April 14 in response to an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian regime.
UK Tornado fighters
Four RAF Tornado jet aircraft struck a Syrian chemical weapons site near Homs with Storm Shadow cruise missiles after taking off from the British base at Cyprus, the UK’s Ministry of Defence confirmed.
The Storm Shadow missiles are an air-launched weapon capable of carrying a 400 kilogram warhead as far as 400 kilometres.
French AWAC, Rafale and Mirage jets
An unspecified number of French Mirage and Rafale fighter jets plus an AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) also participated in the strike, France’s armed forces minister, Florence Parly, confirmed in a Tweet.
Taking off from bases in France, the planes are also likely to have carried Storm Shadow missiles making their entry into Syrian airspace, and subsequent exposure to anti aircraft fire, unnecessary.
US B-1 bombers
A number of US Air Force B-1B bombers also took part in the strike.
The four-engined bomber is capable of delivering air-launched JASSM cruise missiles, carrying 450 kilogram warheads over a distance of 370 kilometres meaning the US bombers also may not have entered Syrian airspace.
US guided-missile cruisers and destroyers
In addition to the air strikes, at least one US warship participated in the strike from its anchorage in the Red Sea.
Both Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers are capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, each with a range of up to 2,500 kilometres.
Tomahawk cruise missile
Though US defence officials have yet to confirm what weapons were used during the strike, the Tomahawk cruise missile appears the most likely.
Tomahawk missiles are capable of delivering a 1,000-pound warhead anywhere within a range of about 1,290 to 2,500 kilometres. Tomahawks are carried by dozens of British and American warships, including cruisers, destroyers and submarines.
Tomahawks are designed to fly extremely low and can navigate defences using their on-board guidance systems.
French frigates and cruise missiles
CNN reported French sources as also confirming three of its multimission frigates and one standard frigate took part in the Syria strikes.
The French multimission frigates are among the newest in the French fleet and carry the MdCN (Missile de Croisière Naval) cruise missile.
Though the MdCN’s range is secret, the missile’s manufacturer describes them as having “very long range” with various industry websites estimating them at around 1,000 kilometres.