Army Air Corps Deploying on Op CABRIT
MOD Announces Increase to Operational Deployment in Estonia
Army Air Corps helicopters will deploy to Estonia later this year, bringing the British military contribution to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (codename Operation CABRIT) to around 1,000 personnel. This will make Britain the largest contributor to the Russian-facing deterrence mission.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson made the announcement at a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Brussels.
Mr Williamson said: “Whenever the call comes from NATO, the UK has always been ready to reach into its full spectrum of capabilities and offer its support. That’s why we’re bolstering training in Estonia by deploying some of the world’s most advanced helicopters to the country.”
The Army Air Corps aircraft will provide aviation training opportunities to NATO allies on Estonia’s annual Exercise Spring Storm as well as to the UK-led battlegroup on NATO enhanced Forward Presence.
The helicopter deployment will boost our contingent to around 1,000 personnel in the Baltics, making the UK the largest contributor to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence – further reinforcing the Alliance’s deterrence and defence posture.
No further details were given by the Defence Secretary, although it can be no coincidence that 656 Squadron, 4 Regiment, Army Air Corps, is currently training in the Arctic Circle on Exercise Clockwork.
Countering Russian Aggression
At NATO HQ, the Defence Secretary underlined the UK’s support for the USA’s position on the INF Treaty following repeated violations by Russia – a stance shared by allies.
Mr Williamson discussed a range of issues with counterparts – noting the continued progress being made by allies on defence spending and encouraging others to follow the example set out by the UK.
He also took the opportunity to welcome Macedonia as the latest member of the Alliance, recognising their accession as a positive for the Western Balkans region and for Euro-Atlantic security. Belgium’s contribution to the UK-led enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup in Estonia this year was similarly welcomed by the Defence Secretary.
With the meeting marking the first gathering of Defence ministers in NATO’s 70th year, Mr Williamson also looked ahead to future events marking the anniversary of the world’s most successful alliance – including the UK having been invited to host a meeting of leaders in December.
Image: an Army Air Corps Apache attack helicopter takes off during an exercise on the Barton Stacey Training Area (BSTA) near Winchester. Designed to hunt and destroy tanks, the Apache attack helicopter has significantly improved the Army’s operational capability. Apache can operate in all weathers, day or night and detect, classify and prioritise up to 256 potential targets in a matter of seconds. It carries a mix of weapons including rockets, Hellfire missiles and a 30mm chain gun. In addition to the distinctive Longbow Radar located above the rotor blades, this aircraft is equipped with a Day TV system, Thermal Imaging sight and Direct View Optics. Defensively it possesses a state of the art fully integrated Defensive Aid Suite. Photograph by Peter Davies (Crown Copyright, 2012).