Estonian Defense League and RAF conduct joint aerial training exercise

An RAF Chinook helicopter.
An RAF Chinook helicopter. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

On Sunday, the Harju branch of the Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit) conducted a joint training exercise with members of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), who are stationed at Ämari Air Base. The Defense League's Saue and Keila companies both took part in the exercise, to prepare for situations in which only aerial vehicles can be used.

Just after 8 p.m. on Sunday, a British Chinook-47 helicopter took off from Ämari Air Base and headed towards Saue. During the joint training exercise, a scenario was played out in which the approach routes to the base were blocked off, meaning all maneuvers had to take place in the air.

"The Brits are interested in practicing their cooperation with the Estonian forces, including the Defense League (Kaitseliit), to understand how we operate," said Lieutenant Colonel Arbo Probal, commander of the Defense League's Harju branch.

"We will have the opportunity to teach our troops how to get on and off the helicopters, what the possibilities are for movements with the helicopters, and so on," Probal said.

"The British commander wanted the helicopter pilots to be able to see how the snow swirls when they land, because there are not many places like that in the U.K. Luckily we have the weather for it here today," said Saue Company Commander Lieutenant Olari Rätsep.

According to Lieutant Colonel Probal, the cooperation between British and Estonian forces is getting closer every day.

"We understand each other very well. There are no bureaucratic obstacles when it comes to communicating with each other and agreeing on things," said Probal.

Although for members of the Defense League's Saue branch, Sunday's training exercise was the first encounter with the Chinook-47, it is the primary vehicle used for maneuvers on a number of missions.

According to Probal, depending on how the Chinook-47 is configured, it can be capable of carrying troops or equipment with a total weight of around 10 tons.

The next major collaborative training exercise, involving participants from several NATO countries, will be this year's Spring Storm (Kevadtorm), which begins in May.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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