After returning to the UK In August last year, RAF Chinooks from No 18(B) Squadron at RAF Odiham have returned to Amari Air Base in Estonia for operation PELEDA. During the first week they were tasked with transporting defence ministers to a meeting in support of Ukraine.
Approximately 100 personnel have deployed with a total of three Boeing Chinooks. The personnel come from joint helicopter support squadron, tactical supply wing, 244 signal squadron and other staff from both the RAF and British Army.
Like the deployment to the Baltic States nation last year, the three Chinooks will be supporting a UK-led forward presence with UK and NATO allies within Estonia. The heavy-lift helicopters are scheduled to stay in Estonia until late February with further UK helicopter deployments planned to deploy to Estonia later in the year.
During the first week of the deployment, 18 Squadron transported the UK Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, and other European defence ministers to Tapa camp for a meeting to announce the Tallinn Pledge in support of Ukraine.
A total of eight countries attended the meeting and many donations were announced in support of Ukraine’s efforts to push Russia out of its country. Denmark decided to give all of it 19 CAESAR artillery systems to Ukraine and continue to provide training to Ukranian soldiers. The Czech Republic will deliver further military materials and provide maintenance of the already delivered equipment.
Estonia announced it will provide ammunition and weapons and anti-tank grenade launchers. Latvia will donate Stinger man-portable-air-defence systems, two M-17 helicopters, an unknown number of UAVs and spare parts for M109 Howitzers. Latvia is also planning to train more than 2,000 Ukranian soldiers in 2023. Neighbouring Lithuania announced a new lethal support package which includes dozens of L-70 anti-aircraft guns with supporting ammunition and two Mi-8 helicopters.
Poland will provide S-60 anti-aircraft guns with 70,000 pieces of ammunition and is prepared to donate a company of leopard 2 tanks and 1000 pieces of ammunition. Slovakia will continue the training of Ukranian soldiers and announced it will continue discussion to donate further equipment.
The UK announced it will donate a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks, with additional armoured recovery and repair vehicles, dozens more unmanned aerial systems, 100,000 more artillery rounds and GMLRS rockets, Starstreak air defence missiles and 600 Brimstone anti-tank munitions. In addition to the UK will provide spare parts to refurbish up to 100 Ukrainian tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. The donation package was further augmented by the UK announcing it plans to train another 20,000 Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel in 2023.