Friday 10th May 2019
Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster witnessed the depth and breadth of the UK’s longstanding defence relationship with Estonia first-hand after visiting deployed UK personnel this week.
The Minister visited Royal Air Force Typhoons patrolling Baltic skies as part of the Alliance’s Baltic Air Policing mission, met with British Army personnel contributing to the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup and flew in one of the Wildcat helicopters recently deployed to Estonia alongside Apache helicopters as part of the UK’s recent uplift in military assets.
Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said:
“The blue, black and white of Estonian flag is said to represent the Baltic sea, its forest soil and its open skies. Our commitment to Estonia is resolute and this year our sailors, soldiers and airmen will work side by side with our Estonian allies providing vital deterrence and reassurance at sea, on land and in the sky.”
On his visit, the Armed Forces Minister also had the chance to witness the Estonian Defence Forces and NATO soldiers training together on Exercise Spring Storm, a major Estonian-led exercise featuring 10,000 personnel. Soldiers from France joined the King’s Royal Hussars and Estonian troops as part of UK-led eFP battlegroup.
Mr Lancaster also met with Estonian defence minister Juri Lurik and the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, Major General Martin Herem to discuss the enduring UK-Estonian defence relationship.
The UK’s leading role in NATO and its support to the Baltic region will be further bolstered this week when HMS Westminster arrives as part of the NATO Standing Maritime Group 1. Further Royal Navy deployments will take place this summer during Baltic Protector, a Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) deployment that will see some 3,000 troops and 20 vessels from JEF partner nations exercise with each other in the region.
Image: Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster speaks to a British Army soldier in front of an Apache helicopter, recently deployed to Estonia.