Cargo being uploaded at RNLAF Eindhoven Air Base. Photo: RNLAF Eindhoven Air Base PAO
On 8 September, the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) launched an Emergency Response Mission to support the humanitarian relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which tore through the Caribbean earlier in the week. The mission was conducted on short notice after a request from the Netherlands, one of the SAC member Nations.
The Emergency Response Mission started from Pápa Air Base, the Home station of the three SAC C-17's, via Eindhoven in the Netherlands to upload the humanitarian relief cargo needed to ease the pressure on the people of the severely damaged island of St. Maarten. Due to uncertain airport conditions on the island, the first run was conducted to Curacao, which was not damaged by the Hurricane, but was designated as staging point for support to the island of St. Maarten. Reportedly airport conditions are now assured at St. Maarten, and another run is planned to go directly there.
Cargo pallets waiting to be uploaded. Photo: RNLAF Eindhoven Air Base PAO
Humanitarian relief missions, often on short notice is one of the mission profiles that the SAC C-17's can perform to support the 12 member nations in the SAC program. Examples of previous humanitarian relief missions performed by the Strategic Airlift Capability are the earthquake relief in Haiti, and the flood relief in Pakistan in 2010.
About the Strategic Airlift Capability
Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), established in 2008, is a multinational program that provides its 12 member nations with assured access to military airlift capability by owning and operating three Boeing C-17A Globemaster III long-range cargo aircraft.
SAC is based at the Hungarian Defense Forces (HDF) Pápa Air Base, Hungary.
The SAC Nations are the NATO members Hungary (program host nation), Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States and NATO Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden. Each participating nation owns a share of the available flight hours of the SAC C-17As to serve the needs of their national defense, NATO, EU or UN commitments and humanitarian relief efforts.
SAC consists of the 12-nation Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) and the NATO Airlift Management Programme Office (NAM PO). The HAW is the operational unit and the NAM PO, an integral part of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), is the acquisition and sustainment authority of the SAC C-17A weapon system.
NAM PO contracts Boeing via a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement to provide technical support for the SAC C-17A aircraft.