SAC1 Looks Like an Aircraft Now

The major structural components of the first of three C-17s destined for NATO’s strategic airlift consortium came together March 13 during a “major join” ceremony at Boeing’s final assembly facility in Long Beach, Calif. During the ceremony, the wing assembly and forward, center, and aft fuselage sections of SAC1, as this C-17 is known, were joined, according to a Boeing release. Senior representatives of Boeing, NATO, the 12-nation SAC, and Hungary, which is hosting NATO’s C-17s, drove ceremonial rivets into the aircraft’s fuselage. “These are exciting times for the 12 nations charged to take this program from concept to reality,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Johnston, US Air Forces in Europe’s director of plans, programs, and analyses, who is also chairman of SAC’s steering board. The first flight of SAC1 is set for June, with delivery tentatively scheduled for early July to the NATO heavy airlift wing being established at Papa AB, Hungary. SAC2 and SAC3 are expected to arrive at Papa later in the year. The Air Force is providing a new-build C-17 as one of the three SAC aircraft; SAC members are pulling resources to procure the other two. (Includes Long Beach report by Maj. Cristin Marposon)