COLCHESTER'S Paratroopers have been demonstrating their ability to rapidly deploy from the air as part of a joint military exercise.

Some 120 members of 16 Air Assault Brigade, joined by six of their Estonian counterparts, flew from RAF Brize Norton in two RAF C130 Hercules transporters to Nurmsi in the Baltic country.

The paratroopers linked up with reservists from the Estonian Defence League, showing their weapons and equipment to their NATO counterparts.

The jump was part of TRACTABLE, the process of rotating equipment and troops in the UK-led battlegroup deployed in the country as part of NATO's Forward Presence.

Brigadier John Clark, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, presented the Estonian soldiers who jumped with British parachute wings.

He said: "Parachuting into Estonia on TRACTABLE has demonstrated 16 Air Assault Brigade’s unique ability and readiness to rapidly deploy troops from the UK to wherever in the world they are needed at very short notice.

"It has allowed us to test our deployment procedures and develop the close partnership with the Royal Air Force that is so vital to airborne forces.

"We’ve also had a great opportunity to work alongside our Estonian allies, allowing us to better understand their capabilities and how we can work together to strengthen each other’s security."

The British troops who jumped were part of 3 Para and were supported by artillery, engineers, signallers, logistics, policing and medical troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Private Callum Prinsloo, of 3 Para, said: “We were alerted in the morning, left Colchester that evening to go to Brize Norton, prepared our kit and parachutes overnight, got on a plane the next morning and jumped into Estonia five hours later.

"It’s all been very fast-paced, exciting and at times exhausting, but that’s what being a paratrooper is about. And if this was an operation, the real work would start after we’ve landed.”