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Royal Air Force Deploys Chinook Helicopters to Support NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia

Royal Air Force (RAF) Chinooks from 27 Squadron at RAF Odiham have deployed to Amari Air Base in Estonia, to support the UK-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltic Region. The RAF’s largest helicopter will support the two Rifles and Royal Welsh Battlegroups. The aircraft will enhance the agility and reach of the NATO Battlegroups by moving personnel and equipment around on exercises in Finland and the Baltic States. On 12th July, the Chinook Force conducted a familiarisation event to explain the UK’s helicopter’s capabilities to the allied forces. United Stated F-35s, French Mirage 2000, and Belgian F-16s are also operating from the Estonian air base as part of the NATO Air Shielding mission.

This deployment is an opportunity for the RAF Chinooks to train with a wide range of allies and partners and demonstrate to international partners its battle winning capabilities. It will also give the crews a better understanding of how to operate most effectively in the Baltic Region. Chinooks can transport up to 40 troops or 10 tonnes of equipment and travel at a speed of up to 300kph, enabling numerous joint training exercises in the coming months. The Chinooks will demonstrate their capabilities on exercises with Portuguese Marines and French troops in Lithuania, Estonia and Finland.

RAF Chinooks Supporting the ATF and eFP (2 RIFLES Battlegroup and Royal Welsh Battlegroup, respectively) the Chinooks from 27 Sqn, RAF Odiham, provide medium lift capability in moving personnel and equipment across the region. (Photo by Royal Air Force)

“The Chinook Force relishes the opportunity to work alongside NATO and facilitate the essential training being conducted by the enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup. The media day on the 12th was a great opportunity to showcase some of the Chinook’s capabilities and demonstrate our support for the NATO mission,” said Wing Commander Butler, Officer Commanding Aviation Task Force 3

The Boeing Chinook is a large, tandem rotor helicopter operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF). A series of variants based on the United States Army’s Boeing CH-47 Chinook, the RAF Chinook fleet is the largest outside the United States. RAF Chinooks have seen extensive service in the Falklands War, the Balkans, Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The current operational Chinook fleet comprises Mk 4, Mk 5, Mk 6 and Mk 6A aircraft, fitted with digital glass cockpits to a common standard. The Mk 6 was acquired as a UK-specific variant of the CH-47F and also introduced a Digital Automatic Flight Control System, greatly enhancing handling and safety, particularly when operating in recirculating dust or snow conditions. The Chinook HC.Mk 5 results from upgrade of the extended-range Mk 3, which carries double the fuel load of a standard Chinook. The earlier Mk 4 Chinooks are being further upgraded to Mk 6A standard with the addition of DAFCS; the final aircraft is expected to be completed early in 2021.

RAF Chinooks are currently deployed to the Baltic region as Aviation Task Force 3. They are based at Amari Air Base to support the Agile Task Force and the British-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Estonia. (Photo by Royal Air Force)