Date: 3 October 2019
British tanks and helicopters in Estonia. Operation Tractable
Great Britain has started its military contingent rotation in Estonia – this time it is also an element of the extensive operation aimed to check the mobility capabilities of the British army in Europe. Challenger 2 tanks appeared in the Tapa Army Base and helicopters of the British Air Forces arrived in the Ämari Air Base.
The British army launched the rotation of its soldiers and military equipment in Estonia. This regards the relocation of jointly 800 soldiers and 200 pieces of equipment which are to replace the United Kingdom forces currently serving in the Baltic republic. The British contingent equipped with Challenger 2 tanks, different armoured vehicles and AS-90 self-propelled artillery weapons is a corpus of the NATO battalion group operating within the Enhanced Forward Presence strategy. Soldiers of the Queen’s Royal Hussars (QRH) regiment for the 20th Armoured Brigade will replace the forces of the King’s Royal Hussars regiment for the 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade. The armoured corpus of the QRH, meaning Challenger 2 tanks, has already arrived in Tapa. The rotation takes place within the Operation Tractable in Europe which aims, among others, to check the mobility capabilities of the British troops. Within this operation, British helicopters arrived in Estonia as well. One Wildcat (from the 659th Squadron from the Yeovilton base, Somerset) and three Apaches (from the 662nd Squadron from the Wattisham base, Suffolk) are already stationed in Ämari. Helicopters will take part in low ceiling flight training, also by night. They will be stationed in Estonia for two weeks.
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British support for the Estonian ally is, of course, connected with the Russian threat. Russian aviation has recently violated the Estonian air space for the third time this year. On October 25, Tu-154 aircraft flew near the Vaindloo island in the Gulf of Finland spending over a minute in the area over the territorial waters of Estonia. The aircraft belongs to the Russian MIA. Its transponder was turned on but not at the required frequency. It did not provide the plan of the flight and did not establish radio contact with the ground-based air traffic controller. On October 28, Ambassador of Russia in Tallinn Alexander Petrov was called to the Estonian MFA where he was given a note of protest.
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