According to an analysis of Ministry of Defence (MoD) statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the UK has spent $376.2m on weaponry and almost $2.1bn to operate the RAF’s fleet of Reaper drones and Tornado and Typhoon jets in the region.
Campaigners have seized on the fact that the new figures reveal the UK has spent more on high-tech smart bombs and missiles to drop on IS in Syria and Iraq than it has spent on humanitarian assistance in Iraq in the same period.
The UK has launched more than 1,700 air strikes in Iraq and Syria and has killed more than 3,000 militants, according to the MoD.
However, despite the US-led coalition declaring victory over IS in Iraq, there is no sign that the RAF jets are set to return to the UK, prompting calls for increased “transparency” from Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow minister for peace. …
The new figures, compiled by campaign group Drone Wars UK, do not include ground operations in Iraq and Syria or training support provided to the Iraqi army or the SDF, but is already substantially higher than the nearly £800m figure provided by the MoD to parliament in October.
They show that the UK has spent the equivalent of $375.3m on smart weapons for use against IS militants in Iraq and Syria since 2014, compared to $331.68m spent by the Department for International Development on assistance for Iraq.
The full cost of flying the UK’s fleet of Reaper drones and fast jets for more than 42,000 hours is the equivalent of almost £2.1bn, Drone Wars UK said.
However, defence analysts have repeatedly argued that the MoD does not account for the full cost of operations, including crew time, maintenance and capital costs, in its costings.
Following the UK’s intervention in Libya in 2011, parliament’s defence select committee was told that official RAF cost figures were “not a true and realistic calculation of the costs of operations”.
Concerns over the financial cost of operations over Iraq and Syria come after campaigners dismissed claims by the UK government that it had “no evidence” that UK air strikes had killed a single civilian.
REVEALED: UK spends $2.5bn bombing Islamic State in Iraq and Syria