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BRUNSSUM, the Netherlands – Between 15 and 21 August a team from NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup Estonia cycled over 1000 km across Estonia. The team was made up of personnel from Estonia, the United Kingdom and Denmark. The NATO ‘Velo’ tour saw participants cycle from Tartu to the west coast of Estonia and across the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa before heading to Tallinn and Narva, where the tour ended on August 21st.
This is a remarkable show of the unity and spirit of cooperation that is long established between the Estonian Defence Force and the British and Danish troops that make up the eFP Battlegroup here in Estonia

said Colonel Paul Clayton, Commander of the NATO Contingent. “The added bonus is the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Estonian countryside while physically challenging ourselves.”

The highlight of this remarkable tour was the participation of Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who joined the NATO ‘Velo’ team and cycled the 150 kilometres from Parnu to Saaremaa Island together with the soldiers. “Thank you so much for spending your Sunday with us and telling us so much about the Island of Saaremaa,” Colonel Clayton said to the Estonian President. “Thanks for the company and good luck!” the President replied.

In addition, French fighter jets of the Baltic Air Policing mission performed a fly-past for the Estonian President and the soldiers of enhanced Forward Battlegroup Estonia taking part in the NATO ‘Velo’ cycle challenge. “Right on time. Great,” Colonel Clayton said.

A warm welcome by the Estonian people

The NATO soldiers were given a warm welcome by the Estonian people wherever they went. For instance, young Estonian cyclists from a local bicycle club joined the NATO ‘Velo’ team. They arrived together in Tallinn, thus demonstrating the close link between the Alliance and the people of the Baltic Sea region.

Throughout the tour, the NATO Battlegroup hosted “meet the soldiers” engagement events, coinciding with the cycling team’s arrival in Tartu, Parnu, Tallinn and Narva. At these events, the Estonian people had the opportunity to meet soldiers of the NATO Battlegroup, see some of their equipment (from small arms to armoured vehicles) and learn about NATO and the enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia. 

On 24 August the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) conducted its first air to air refuelling mission. The aircraft took off from its Main Operating Base in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and refuelled Eurofighter Typhoons of the the German Air Force. 

The MRTT's 111 tons basic fuel capacity enables the aircraft to excel in air-to-air refuelling missions without the need for any additional fuel tanks. Moreover, it can provide a maximum fuel flow rate of approximately 2,200 litres a minute, using a boom and a hose and drogue mechanism, that enables it to quickly fuel all of the aircraft in the inventory with the MMF nations (F-16, F-35, C-17, Eurofighters, Tornado and Gripen) and most of the other aircraft used within NATO.

The MMF is managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) with the assistance of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR). The Fleet, under the ownership of NATO and operated by an international unit, will provide its six participating nations (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands) with strategic tanker and transport capabilities.

Story by Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum Public Affairs Office

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