London. 24 April 2019. British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson bid farewell to Army aviators as they took off for Estonia, where they will be training alongside NATO forces working to reassure our allies and deter our adversaries.
3 Regiment Army Air Corps is deploying to the Baltics for three months, with Apache attack helicopters of 663 Squadron that took off from their base at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk on 15 Apr 19. The Apaches will be working in tandem with the Army’s Wildcat battlefield reconnaissance helicopters to provide valuable training opportunities to NATO allies on Estonia’s annual Exercise Spring Storm and to the UK-led battlegroup deployed on NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP).
Before the Apaches departed from Wattisham, the Defence Secretary spoke with the soldiers who fly and maintain the aircraft to understand more about its capabilities and their mission.
The helicopter deployment will boost the UK’s presence in the Baltics, known as Operation Cabrit, to around 1,000 personnel, making the UK the largest contributor to eFP. The Wildcat’s surveillance ability combined with the Apache’s sensors and weaponry will be a step change in troops’ capabilities to detect, track and engage targets during the exercises they participate in.
Major Dave Lambert, Officer Commanding 663 Sqn, said: “The deployment to Estonia is a fantastic opportunity for the Squadron to challenge itself. It will test how we deploy and operate overseas, develop our operational partnership with the Wildcat and our ability to work alongside our NATO allies.”