SAC 01 and SAC 03 at Pápa Air Base, Hungary, on 9 May 2016. Photo: HAW / Tuomas Saavalainen.
The U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is among the units participating in Exercise Noble Partner 2016. The 'Sky Soldiers' are regular training partners of the multinational Heavy Airlift Wing, based in Pápa Air Base, Hungary. At the request of SAC member nation the United States, the HAW will transport personnel and equipment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade from Italy to Georgia prior to the beginning of the exercise.
First arranged in 2015, the annual Exercise Noble Partner aims at increasing interoperability between the participating nations' militaries. For Georgia, it is an important opportunity to provide training for its contribution of a light infantry company to the NATO Response Force (NRF) and to enhance its defence capabilities. Exercises like Noble Partner 2016 highlight the significance of strategic airlift assets. Multinational ownership and operation of C-17s through the SAC program provides a cost-efficient and flexible solution for deploying troops and equipment from Italy to Georgia.
SAC 02 at Pápa Air Base, Hungary, on 9 May 2016. Photo: HAW / Tuomas Saavalainen.
Read more about Exercise Noble Partner 2016:
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-17 Globemaster III long-range cargo aircraft.
SAC is based at the Hungarian Defence 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-17s to serve the needs of their national defence, 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-17 weapon system.
NAM PO contracts Boeing via a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement to provide technical support for the SAC C-17 aircraft.