The first of hundreds of UK military vehicles have arrived in Estonia to support the UK’s enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup based in Tapa, one of the largest ever NATO deployments to Eastern Europe.
Setting sail from Marchwood, Southampton, last Wednesday, the Roll-on-Roll-off ferry also stopped off in Emden, Germany, to collect Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, Challenger 2 tanks and AS90 self-propelled artillery guns. It also carried Terrier, Titan and Trojan armoured battlefield engineer vehicles. The vehicles will then be moved by road from the port to Tapa.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:
This is the start of one of the biggest deployment in Eastern Europe since the Cold War and by the end of next month, we will have 800 British troops, with armour, with tanks, ready to help reassure our allies and to underline our commitment to the security of Europe
British troops are playing a leading role in Estonia and supporting our US allies in Poland, as part of wider efforts to defend NATO.
Commanding Officer of 5 Rifles Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wilson added:
The arrival of British and French armoured vehicles, alongside the men and women of the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup is hugely exciting. We look forward to integrating into the Estonian Defence Force and training alongside 1st Infantry Brigade within a matter of weeks.
Along with the French contribution of infantry fighting vehicles and tanks, which also arrived over the last few days, these vehicles will give the 5 Rifles Battlegroup the capability to operate in a wide range of exercises and operations within the 1st Estonian Infantry Brigade.
The arrival of these vehicles follows the first deployment of 120 personnel to the country at the end of last week, standing by our allies and bolstering the Estonian Defence Forces. The first train and advanced French elements of the 2th Régiment d’infanterie de Marine will join their British counterparts this week.