Tu, 29.11.2022
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US armoured unit enters service in Estonia

Andres Einmann
US armoured unit enters service in Estonia
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United States of America 1st Cavalry Division, 1st Brigade, 8th Cavalry Regiment’s mechanised infantry company has entered service on Estonian soil. By ceremony at 1st Infantry Brigade at Tapa, the unit replaced US 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team – in Estonia since spring.

Arriving at Tapa last week, a train echelon brought in the unit’s Bradley battle machines, Stryker armoured carriers and other equipment. Accompanying the armoured vehicles, the needed command and rear-guard support vehicles rolled in as well.

Yesterday morning at Tapa, the Americans showed off their technology at the old Tapa military airfield, introducing the combat capabilities. Along the old airstrip, the unit arranged an «operation» to show terrain was no problem for the vehicles to move – the speed remarkably fast off-road for both Bradleys and Strykers.

While hailing from the warmth of Texas, USA, the officers present assured us the armoured technology works just fine in the tough Estonian winter and the sub-zero Celsius will be no problem at all – the battle machines having undergone tests in Alaskan cold, all passed with no glitches.

Among the vehicles now present in Estonia, Bradley M2A3 is a 27.6 tonne infantry battle machine on tracks, equipped with a 25 millimetre fast-shooting cannon, a 7.62 mm machine gun, and the anti-tank system TOW. The Bradley sports a 600 horse powered diesel engine able to go at 66 km/h. A M2A3 can «house» up to 12 people, the 3-member crew included.

Armoured carriers Stryker M1126 come with 12.7 mm calibre heavy machine guns; up to nine of troops can travel in addition to the two-member crew.  A 350 horsepower engine can pull the 16.5-tonne thing at over 100 kilometres an hour. The machine, covered by 14.5 mm thick armour, carries a 400 mm calibre grenade thrower MK19 and a 7.62 mm machine gun MK240.

The armoured recovery/repair/support vehicle M88A2 Hercules is for assisting combat machines stuck or damaged on battlefield. A Hercules weighs 70 tonnes and is among the largest of its kind in US Army. The helper has a turbocharged 1,050 horsepower engine and, equipped with a hoist, it may lift weights up to 32,000 kilograms. The fastest it can go is 56 km/h.

The US unit will be doing joint exercises with its Estonian host base. At the moment, it is being specified how the US unit and its machines can be utilised in training. With Estonian Defence Forces equipped with armoured personnel carriers for years, we have no combat machines as yet. Last week, Estonia entered preliminary agreement with Holland to purchase 44 infantry combat machines CV90.

1st Cavalry Division, 1st Brigade, 8th Cavalry Regiment is the US unit this year available for NATO response forces, it’s firepower among the strongest in its category. If needed, the unit can go, in full battle gear, from Fort Hood, Texas to Europe.

In 2004 and 2008, Estonian troops fought in Iraq as part of this very unit.  

The United States unit in Tapa

Manned with 150 of US troops.


• 7 infantry combat machines Bradley M2A3,

• 9 armoured personnel carriers Stryker M1126,

• 1 heavy recovery vehicle M88A2 Hercules,

• A couple dozen support and command vehicles, mainly Hummers and trucks.