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UK and US Paratroopers Jump in Estonia as Part of Exercise Defender Europe 21

Thousands of British, US, and Estonian forces have taken part in Exercise Swift Response where British and American troops jumped into Estonia on Saturday 8 May as part of the ongoing Exercise Defender Europe 21.

Around 600 US and UK paratroopers made the 7,500km flight from Fort Bragg in North Carolina in the US, into Estonia on dozens of aircraft, including Boeing C-17 Globe masters. Helicopters then supported the incoming aircraft and brought in additional troops and equipment, once they were within Estonian airspace.

The US and UK troops then took part in a full assault, with Estonian ground forces playing the enemy.

Exercise Swift Response is part of a US-led, annual exercise known as Defender Europe and this year's is the biggest in the last 25 years. Held across 16 European countries, it is designed to showcase the ability of NATO to carry out large ground combat operations in support of its members and allies.

Major Shepard from 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment said: “The exercise went really well and it’s quite special to travel 7,500 km from one continent to another and be able to deliver a number of paratroopers with equipment. 

“The troops were in the air for more than seven hours before they jumped in Nurmsi, Estonia.The exercise demonstrated joint capability and interoperability, and that NATO can mass combat power quickly and effectively at short notice.”

Nothing of this scale, where troops are deployed into Eastern Europe from the air, has been done before. Defender Europe 21 will continue through May and June with Exercise Immediate Response, and NATO Exercises Steadfast Defender and Noble Jump running alongside.

Future Soldier, the Army’s transformation plan as part of the Integrated Review, reinforces the UK’s role in NATO and around the world. The Army will be more global in its perspective, its operations and its partnerships,

More of the Army will be deployed across the globe more of the time, with the capabilities to operate alongside partners, and compete with adversaries. We will be present in the places which matter most to the UK, meaning we can better anticipate events and reassure our allies.

The Army will be better connected, faster, and pound-for-pound more lethal than ever before. It will be integrated across domains, with NATO, and beyond.