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Chinooks in Estonia on Operation PELEDA

Aviation Task Force 3 has returned to Ämari Air Base, Estonia, with three Chinooks from 18(B) Squadron, RAF Odiham, for Operation PELEDA. Approximately 100 people are deployed with the aircraft, including teams from Joint Helicopter Support Squadron, Tactical Supply Wing, 244 Signal Squadron, and other enablers from the RAF and Army.

Image shows RAF Chinook flying over another Chinook on the airfield.

During the deployment the aircraft will be supporting the UK-led enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia, working with UK forces and NATO Allies in the country. The Chinooks will be working closely with Estonian Defence Forces, to increase interoperability and capability, as Estonia does not have its own heavy-lift rotary capability.

Image shows RAF aviators and Chinooks on the airfield.

The arrival of the Chinooks at Ämari was marked by Estonian Defence Minister, Mr Hanno Pevkur, visiting the base last Tuesday. He was joined by HMA Mr Ross Allen and invited journalists, all of whom were able to experience a short flight in a Chinook before interviews on the ground.

Image shows RAF aviator using rope to pull another out of a frozen lake while on exercise.

The Chinooks transported the Secretary of State for Defence, The Right Honourable Ben Wallace, and other European defence ministers and representatives, for their meeting at Tapa Camp to announce The Tallinn Pledge in support of Ukraine.

Image shows RAF aviators exiting the carrier bay of a Chinook on the airfield.

The rest of the first week saw Chinooks straight into taskings, including training with Estonian Defence Forces, and flying NATO personnel who work in the Estonian Defence Forces Tallinn Headquarters. This also allowed members of the public in Tallinn to spot the aircraft near some of the city’s landmarks.

Image shows RAF Chinook flying over a snowy nation ground with flags and building headquarters.

As well as the aircraft being busy, the deployed personnel have also completed the Cold Weather Operator Course, to help prepare them for working through the Estonian winter.

Image shows RAF aviators inside a Chinook, looking towards the open loading bay.

The aim of the deployment is to fulfil the bilateral agreement signed by Ben Wallace and Hanno Pevkur last November to help bolster defence and security across the Baltic states alongside the NATO enhanced Forward Presence. Aviation Task Force 3 is due to be in EST Jan-late Feb. Further deployments of rotary aircraft will follow later in the year.

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