FIVE ARMY Air Corps Apache AH1s have deployed to Estonia for a three-month detachment to train alongside NATO forces. The helicopters, ZJ179, ZJ190, ZJ192, ZJ199 and ZJ230 from 3 Regiment/663 Squadron, departed from their base at Wattisham Flying Station, Suffolk, on April 15 using callsign ‘Hunter Flight’, initially to Nörvenich, Germany, where they stopped overnight. They departed the next morning for Poznan, Poland, where they night-stopped again and also performed a flypast over Warsaw to honour their Polish heritage before continuing eastwards and finally arriving in Estonia on April 19.
The helicopters will form part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) once established in theatre. They will work in tandem with AAC Wildcat AH1 battlefield reconnaissance helicopters to provide valuable training opportunities to NATO allies during Estonia’s annual Exercise Spring Storm and to the UK-led deployed battlegroup. 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.