UK defence forces are to deploy Wildcat and Apache helicopters to Estonia, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson (Conservative) announced on Wednesday.
The helicopters, the AgustaWestland Apache attack helicopter, and the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat utility helicopter, are operated by the Army Air Corps, the aviation element of the British Army, and will rovide aviation training opportunities to NATO allies on Estonia’s annual Spring Storm (Kevadtorm) exercise as well as to the UK-led battle group on NATO enhanced forward presence, acording to a UK Ministry of Defence Press Release. Mr Williamson had made the announcement at a NATO defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.
“Whenever the call comes from NATO, the UK has always been ready to reach into its full spectrum of capabilities and offer its support. That’s why we’re bolstering training in Estonia by deploying some of the world’s most advanced helicopters to the country,” Williamson said, as reported by spokespersons.
The helicopter deployment will boost the UK contingent to around 1,000 personnel in the Baltic States, making the UK the largest contributor to NATO’s enhanced forward presence and further reinforcing the alliance’s deterrence and defense posture, it is reported.
The precise date of the helicopters’ arrival was not mentioned. The UK is the lead nation in the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, with most of its forces based at the Tapa military base, to the east of Tallinn. Current troops stationed there include 1st Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, an armoured infantry unit.