Multinational C-17 Wing Stands Up

The strategic airlift capability (SAC) consortium, the 10 NATO and two NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations that will jointly operate an airlift wing of three C-17 transports from Papa Air Base in western Hungary, yesterday celebrated the arrival of SAC 01, the first C-17, and the official activation of the wing. “The SAC exemplifies what can be accomplished when nations come together for a common purpose: to acquire, collectively, a capability that would be beyond the means of nations, acting individually,” Amb. Claudio Bisogniero, NATO deputy secretary general, said at the heavy airlift wing activation ceremony. Bisogniero was joined by Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai and Minister of Defence Imre Szekeres, as well as high-level civilian and military representatives of the 12 nations. The US contributed SAC 01, which is expected to start flying missions soon in support of NATO-led operations in Afghanistan, according to C-17 manufacturer Boeing. The SAC members are collectively procuring the second and third C-17, which are scheduled to arrive at Papa in September and October, respectively. The SAC group includes NATO members Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and the US, and NATO PfP nations Finland and Sweden. US Air Force Col. John Zazworsky commands the airlift wing. (NATO release, Bisogniero’s full remarks, US Air Forces in Europe release, Boeing release)