Cargo ship MV Eddystone (Picture: RAF).
Royal Air Force vehicles and supplies have sailed from Southampton to mark the start of a new RAF deployment to Estonia.
The RAF mission, announced last year by the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, will see four RAF Coningsby-based Typhoon jets deploy to the Amari Air Base in Estonia.
On arrival, they will conduct NATO Air Policing activities over the summer alongside other NATO Allies.
In Estonia, the RAF deployment will complement the already deployed British Army Battlegroup, that forms part of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence mission.
The vehicles, including aircraft tugs, fuel bowsers and other speciality equipment, boarded the cargo ship MV Eddystone at the Army’s Sea Mounting Centre for their five-day journey to Estonia to support NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.
Also on board are British Army vehicles - including Challenger 2 main battle tanks destined for the British Army Battlegroup.
The responsibility for getting the RAF vehicles from their bases in the UK to their new temporary home at Amari was given to the professional drivers from RAF Wittering-based No.2 Mechanical Transport Squadron RAF.
Flight Lieutenant James Eyles, from the Cambridgeshire-based squadron said:
“The squadron is involved in the three phases of the operation; the deploy, the sustain and the recover.
“Once the equipment is there and the operation is up and running, a small team will remain to manage a fleet of more than thirty vehicles and provide aircraft refuelling for all the Typhoon jets 24/7.”
RAF Wittering’s Station Commander, Group Captain Tony Keeling, explained why the mission is important to the RAF:
“NATO is at the core of everything that we do and it’s really important that we play an active part in that contribution.
"It is all about protecting the airspace in Eastern Europe and having a deterrent against any potential aggressors.”