About the SAC/HAW
The Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) based in Pápa Air Base, Hungary is the operational arm of the multinational Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC). It operates three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III long-range cargo jets providing strategic military airlift capability to the 12 member nations of the consortium.
The SAC, established in September 2008, is an independent and multinational program aiming at providing strategic military airlift capability to its partner nations. Although it relies on certain NATO support structures, the SAC transcends the military and political alliances like the NATO and the EU.
The SAC Nations consist of the NATO members Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States and NATO Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden.
Hungary is the host nation of the Heavy Airlift Wing and provides the Pápa Air Base as the home base of the wing. The SAC C- 17s are registered and flagged in Hungary. All SAC partner nations share the operational costs based on their flight hour commitments to the program.
The HAW personnel is composed of 135 military and civil personnel from the SAC participating nations.
Airlift Capability for Diverse Missions
The Heavy Airlift Wing operates three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III long-range military cargo jets providing strategic airlift capability to meet the mission requirements of the 12 SAC partner nations.
The HAW became operational in 2009 and its aircraft fleet has achieved over 10.000 flying hours on over 600 missions, delivered approximately 64 million pounds (over 29.000 tons) of cargo and carried over 38.000 passengers. The unit achieved Full Operational Capability (FOC) in November 2012. The HAW aircraft have supported a variety of missions according to the requests of its partner nations.
The HAW aircraft can respond to a wide selection of airlift needs. The operations can include national support to EU / NATO / UN operations or national military, peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations wherever and whenever needed by the partner nations.
Examples of operations supported include International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan (2009–), NATO operations in Libya (2011), earthquake relief in Haiti (2010), flood relief in Pakistan (2010) and support to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) actions in Mali taken according to the UN Security Council Resolution (2013).
HAW missions can contain multiple tasks such as air refueling, single ship airdrop, assault landings and all-weather operations day or night into low to medium threat environments using night vision goggles (NVG).
The SAC is often seen as an initiative in forefront of collective ownership and operation of strategic defense capabilities. All the SAC partner nations have the need for strategic airlift, but most of them could not maintain the capability alone. The idea of pooling and sharing is expanding from the field of strategic airlift to other defense capabilities as well.
Support and Guidance
To be able to conduct its operations, the Heavy Airlift Wing receives guidance and support from various organizations.
The HAW aircraft and supporting equipment are owned by the NATO Airlift Management Program (NAMP) on behalf of the SAC Nations. The wing also receives support from NATO Support Agency (NSPA). The manufacturer of the C-17, the Boeing Company, is responsible for contract flight line maintenance; engineering and technical support; and management and supply of C-17 spare partsThe oversight and the guidance of the program are provided by the SAC Steering Board and Nato Airlift Management Program (NAMP) consisting of representatives of the 12 partner nations.