Operation Tractable brings largest ever military para drop in Estonia

Over 100 personnel from the United Kingdom's elite Parachute Regiment and Estonian defense forces took part in a large-scale exercise in Estonia on Friday.

The jump was the largest military parachute exercise ever to take place in the country, and was part of the Europe-wide Operation Tractable, Baltic News Service reports, with the drop zone (DZ) being Nurmsi Airfield near Paide in central Estonia.

Two Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport planes carried the Paras, from the British Army's 16th Air Assault Brigade, accompanied by six Estonian volunteer Defence League (Kaitseliit) members who who had been in the U.K. for training; the planes themselves had flown from RAF Brize Norton in the U.K.

An exercise clearing and securing the DZ, establishing contact following the jump and preparing for tasks following it preceded the jump, BNS reports.

The airborne operation was preceded by a joint exercise of the allies, Kaitseliit and the Estonian defense forces, the purpose of which was to rehearse the clearing and securing of the landing zone and the subsequent establishment of contact as well as planning of operations with the landed airborne unit.

At least two British Army Air Corps (AAC) helicopters, including an AgustaWestland Apache attack helicopter, took part in the exercise.

16th Air Assault Brigade's commander, Brig. John Clark, was also present.

Operation Tractable brings around 800 personnel from the U.K. to Estonia, coinciding with the handover of the core unit of the British-led NATO Battlegroup to the Queen's Royal Hussars, an armored regiment, but separate from it.

Formed during World War Two and distinctive for their maroon berets, the Paras boast among the toughest military selection processes in the world.

A video of the exercise (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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