RAF Pumas roar across skies of Lithuania as NATO flexes muscles on Putin’s doorstep

The news comes as NATO Secretary-General Jen Stoltenberg announced an increase of combat-ready troops to 300,000 ahead of the alliance summit in Madrid. Furthermore, the head of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders has compared the Ukraine war to World War 2, stating Britain is facing its own “1937 moment” as the war intensifies.

Adding to the extra presence in Eastern Europe, the RAF Puma’s can be seen in a Ministry of Defence (MoD) Video practising routines above the skies of Lithuania.

Announcing the news, the MoD tweeted: “Aviation Task Force 3 has been taking part in Exercise Griffin Thunder with Lithuanian Artillery/Anti-Tank soldiers and Portuguese Marines.”

In the clip, the Puma’s can be seen filled with troops under the exercise dubbed “Operation Griffin Thunder”.

The drill, conducted in the RAF helicopters, see Portuguese and Lithuanian troops conducting low passes, landings and flight safety training.

According to the RAF, the Puma is a medium support helicopter which operates under Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) control.

The aircraft is used in a variety of combat roles, including the tactical movement of troops, weapons, ammunition and stores on the battlefield, as well as the extraction of casualties and in response to medical emergencies on the frontline.

It is also employed during non-combatant evacuations, and humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

The veteran aircraft can carry up to 16 passengers during flight, or 12 fully equipped soldiers.

It is also capable of moving up to two tonnes of freight in a carrier role.

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Historically, the Puma has served extensively in Northern Ireland, and in Belize during tensions with neighbouring Guatemala, where it provided mobility for the British Army and support for RAF Harriers.

The Puma also provided essential lift during Operation Granby, the British contribution to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, which successfully liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation in 1991.

Britain is seeking a financial boost to its military as a recent leak suggested Defence Minister Ben Wallace is seeking an extra £10billion to fund the military.

With Britain a major contributor to Ukrainian defences, Russia has taken offence to the assistance and has issued countless threats to British security on Russian state television.

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Mr Wallace confirmed the donation of M270 multiple-launch rocket systems with M31A1 precision munitions to Ukraine on June 6.

The Government says that Ukrainian troops will be trained on how to use the weapons in the UK.

Downing Street says it is spending £1.3billion on military support for Ukraine.

Included in the equipment being sent are more than 200 Javelin anti-tank missiles, as well as electronic warfare and jamming equipment.

For more stories like this, follow Defence and Secuirty Correspondent James Lee on Twitter @JamesLee_DE