The United Kingdom has sent 5 Apache helicopter gunships to the Baltic nation of Estonia on the Russian border to increase deterrence against perceived Russian aggression in the region. The Baltics are former Soviet republics and now part of the NATO alliance.
The aircraft will take part in NATO’s eFP (Enhance Forward Presence) which consists of 4 NATO-members deployed in 4 battlegroups across the Baltic front.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson watched the aircraft take off from Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk, reported The Irish Times.
Mr Williamson, speaking at the airfield, said: “It’s a very credible threat that we see from Russia and part of the reason that we’re deploying five Apache attack helicopters is making sure that we’re constantly adapting to a changing situation, but this is about deterrents.
“This is about Nato nations standing together in unity as one and you see Great Britain playing the largest role in enhanced forward presence with the largest number of service personnel deployed.
“The enhancement of that deployment with the Apache attack helicopters is really vital and very, very important and it’s been very warmly welcomed by so many nations.”
“Whenever you go somewhere new, there’s always things that you learn about how to operate,” said Major David Lambert, commanding officer of 663 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps.
“Your fieldcraft needs to change and in the UK we train very much in rolling countryside, it favours us in what we do.
“Actually putting ourselves in a really flat area in close proximity to the Russian border brings some new, complex challenges that we need to look at.
“I’m really excited by the whole prospect,” wrote The Irish Times.
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