The UK’s Royal Air Force has deployed several Chinook helicopters to Estonia as part of an agreement between the two allies.
The Chinooks arrived at Estonia’s Ämari Air Base on 17 January. The choppers were deployed as part of the agreement Estonia and the UK signed in November last year.
The Chinooks are primarily used to transport troops and equipment and have the capability on board to provide defensive fire support in the form of two 7.62mm M134 mini guns and one 7.62mm M60D machine gun.
According to the Royal Air Force, the Chinook is an extremely capable support helicopter that can be operated from land bases or ships into diverse environments.
“We are here to operate with Estonian Defence Forces and European allies. This is a highly versatile aircraft, offering enormous agility which enables us to move large volumes of people and equipment around the battlespace,” Tom Carter, the commanding officer of British Aviation Task Force’s 18 Squadron, said in a statement.
The arrival of the Chinook helicopters from RAF Odiham is the first part of the air forces arriving as part of the UK’s contribution to support Estonia’s defence plan. In addition, the UK is due to deploy Apache helicopters and Typhoon fighters to Estonia this spring.
The air force unit is an addition to the NATO battlegroup based in Tapa and their activities will be integrated during inter-unit exercises to take place in the coming weeks. This allows pilots and air force units and crews to practice ground and air force cooperation on the battlefield.
The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is a tandem rotor helicopter developed by American rotorcraft company Vertol and manufactured by Boeing Vertol. The Chinook is among the heaviest lifting Western helicopters. Its name, Chinook, is from the Native American Chinook people of Oregon and Washington state. The Chinook has been manufactured since 1962 and over 1,200 have been produced since.