British Chinook helicopters have returned to Estonia as part of the Aviation Task Force agreed to by UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in November 2022. The Chinooks (CH-47) are primarily used to transport troops and equipment, and also have the capability on board to provide defensive fire support in the form of two 7.62mm M134 mini guns and one 7.62mm M60D machine gun. The CH-47s are in Estonia as part of the Estonia-UK joint statement in November last year. The Chinooks were on display at Ämari Air Base on Tuesday, January 17 and welcomed back to the country by Estonian Defence Minister, Hanno Pevkur and His Majesty’s Ambassador to Estonia, Ross Allen.
“We are here to operate with Estonian Defence Forces and European allies. This is a highly versatile aircraft, offering enormous agility which enables us to move large volumes of people and equipment around the battlespace,” Wing Commander Tom Carter, Commanding Officer, 18 Squadron, British Aviation Task Force stated.
“The arrival of these helicopters is in accordance with the roadmap we agreed on with the UK in November last year. Later, Typhoons will be here as well as Apaches. This is exactly what we need to do together,” Hanno Pevkur, Estonian Defence Minister said.
The Chinook is an extremely capable support helicopter that can be operated from land bases or ships into diverse environments. The arrival of the Chinooks from the Royal Air Force base at Odiham is the first tranche of aviation assets to arrive in accordance with the UK’s commitment to the Estonian Defence Plan. These are in addition to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup, based in Tapa, and will be integrated into multinational exercises over the coming weeks. This gives the pilots and crews the opportunity to practice air-land integration through the movement of ground-based personnel around the battlefield.
The Boeing Chinook is a large, tandem rotor helicopter operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF). A series of variants based on the United States Army’s Boeing CH-47 Chinook, the RAF Chinook fleet is the largest outside the United States. RAF Chinooks have seen extensive service in the Falklands War, the Balkans, Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Chinook, normally based at RAF Odiham in England, provides heavy-lift support and transport across all branches of the British armed forces. In 2018, the UK issued a request to the United States to purchase sixteen additional aircraft. The Chinook is expected to remain in RAF service until the 2040s.