AN RAF Typhoon jet blasted a suspected Iran-backed militia drone out of the sky near a coalition air base in Syria on Tuesday.
It is the first time the RAF have had an air-to-air combat engagement since the Falklands War almost 40 years ago.
Defence officials have declined to say who was flying the drone near the At Tanf base.
But Iran and its proxies are known to use drones in the region – including a suicide drone attack against the commercial vessel MV Mercer Street, which killed British Army veteran Adrian Underwood in August.
The Typhoon jets based at RAF Akoritiri in Cyprus were part of Operation Shader, the UK’s contribution to the Global Coalition Against Daesh.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “On Tuesday 14 December, hostile drone activity was detected around the At Tanf coalition base in Syria.
“A pair of Typhoon FGR4s from Royal Air Force Akrotiri were conducting one of their regular patrols over Syria and Iraq as part of the global coalition against Daesh, and were tasked to investigate.
“On arrival in the At Tanf area, the pilots were able to identify a small hostile drone, and despite the diminutive size of the target, succeeded in conducting an air to air engagement with an ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missile) which eliminated the threat it posed to coalition forces.”
Meanwhile, the US military revealed they shot down one of two drones near the same coalition base in southern Syria on Tuesday.
It’s not clear if that incident is linked to the one involving RAF Typhoon.
Captain Bill Urban, of the US Central Command, said two drones were tracked entering airspace around At Tanf Garrison on Tuesday evening.
He said: “As one of the UAS continued its course deeper into the At Tanf Deconfliction Zone, it was assessed as demonstrating hostile intent and was shot down.”
Iran or Iranian-backed militia groups are believed to be behind Tuesday’s drone incident and an attack a few weeks at the same base, defence officials told NBC News.
It is not known if the drones on Tuesday were carrying any explosives and there are no reports of casualties.
The previous attack on the base was a coordinated assault involving a group of drones, some of which were packed with explosives.
And while no injuries were reported, the base was badly damaged, officials said.
US troops at the base train Syrian soldiers to fight against depraved ISIS fighters in southern Syria.
At Tanf Garrison is located near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders that features a road which enables Iran-backed militias to travel from Tehran to southern Lebanon.
RAF aircrafts have continued to fly missions over Iraq and Syria in support of the global coalition against ISIS.
The MOD said on October 25, the crew of an RAF drone named Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles, tracked a known terrorist in northern Syria, near the city of Ras al Ayn.
A statement said “at a safe moment, when the individual was alone in a field, (the Reaper) carried out a successful strike.”