Gallery: Allied tanks to face off in final battle of Spring Storm ({{commentsTotal}})

Tanks of three allied nations taking part in Estonia's large-scale Spring Storm exercise are set to engage in mock combat in the final battle of the exercise.

The two-day battle will be held primarily at and around the Central Training Ground of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) and will differ from the preceding portions of the exercise in that the attacking and defending sides will both be able to use the maneuvering capability, speed and firepower of the allied battle group to the fullest extent, EDF spokespeople said.

The attacking side will use French Leclerc and British Challenger 2 tanks, while the defending side will have use of the German Army's Leopard 2 tanks.

In addition to allies' heavy armor, the CV9035 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) recently acquired by Estonia from the Netherlands will undergo their first baptism by fire in such a large training battle, spokespeople added.

Col. Veiko-Vello Palm, commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade, said that conducting such a large-scale battle on the Central Training Ground means quite strict constraints for a brigade-size unit.

"This is rather a challenge in the positive sense, as we must be ready in real life as well to fight a war and win on any terrain under any conditions," said Palm. "The battles thus far have shown that the brigade's units are professionally trained, extremely motivated and fully prepared to demonstrate their best in difficult battles as well."

While the first phase of training battles which began last week saw the 1st Infantry Brigade in the defending role and the 2nd Infantry Brigade in that of the enemy, the brigades will now swap roles.

On Tuesday, the Scouts Battalion, the Kalev infantry Battalion the allied battle group and a U.S. company, supported by indirect fire from the Artillery Battalion and allied indirect weapons, will make up the attacking side as part of the 1st Infantry Brigade. Airborne assets of the Estonian Air Force and allies will provide support for both brigades.

The defending party, the 2nd Infantry Brigade, consists of the Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion, supported by an armored German company, Latvian and Lithuanian companies as well as pioneer units from the Netherlands, Finland and Germany.

A military police unit consisting of conscripts of the Guard Battalion will also be present during the exercise.

The maneuver units of the volunteer Estonian Defence League, which participated in training battles in earlier phases of the exercise, will not participate in the final battle.

Spring Storm will conclude on May 26 following a final lineup at the Central Training Area on May 25.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS