SAC C-17 takes off from Pápa Air Base, Hungary, on 3 June. Photo: HAW / Tuomas Saavalainen.
Based in Pápa Air Base, Hungary, the three Boeing C-17A Globemaster III aircraft of the SAC support multinational exercises throughout Europe. In 2016, the SAC has already supported e.g. Noble Partner, Saber Junction and Cold Response. Exercises such as these highlight the importance of strategic airlift assets. During Exercise Saber Strike 2016, SAC C-17As will transport Finnish, Norwegian and U.S. troops and equipment to and from the Baltic States.
Multinational ownership and operation of C-17As through the SAC program provides these three nations with a cost-efficient and flexible solution for deploying personnel and materiel. The multinational aircrews of the HAW execute a total of 3,165 flight hours (FHs) per year. Each contributing nation has a share of the flight hours; the United States has 1,000, Norway 400 and Finland 100 annual FHs. The remaining 1,665 FHs are divided among the other nine SAC members.
First held in 2010, the annual U.S. Army Europe-led Exercise Saber Strike aims at facilitating cooperation among Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as other participating nations. This year, the joint exercise brings together troops from 13 Allied and Partner nations to enhance interoperability and joint operational capabilities.
U.S. Army Europe Exercise Saber Strike 2016 website:
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.