Heavy Airlift Wing declares Full Operational Capability

20 November 2012

Air refueling, single-ship airdrop, assault landings, all-weather operations day or night into low-to-medium-threat environments, aeromedical evacuation operations – crews of the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) are trained and now officially capable of performing all of the above, i.e. the entire spectrum of C-17 air-land and air-drop mission capabilities.

Full Operational Capability (FOC) was declared by Col. Keith Boone (USAF), HAW Commander, at the November 2012 joint meeting of the NATO Airlift Management (NAM) Programme Board (PB) and the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) Steering Board (SB) held in Tallinn, Estonia.

The symbolic keys and the Airworthiness Certificate for the first SAC C-17 aircraft were handed to the former HAW Commander, Col. John Zazworsky (USAF), by NAM Programme Manager Gunnar Borch on 14 July 2009 at the Boeing Long Beach Facility. Now, just three years after the first aircraft arrived at Pápa Airbase in Hungary, the HAW Commander has announced the Wing's FOC.

Thanks to excellent support from other parties – such as the NAM Programme Office, service provider Boeing and host nation Hungary – the HAW now has the ability to sustain 3,165 flight hours annually across the entire range of missions assigned to the unit. The SAC participating nations contribute personnel to this military structure in direct proportion to their share of flight hours. The HAW draws on the best that 12 nations have to offer – the best personnel, the best practices, the best cultures, the best ideas. It is a cohesive, multinational team that executes the HAW mission safely, efficiently, and effectively.

At the meeting in Tallinn, the SAC Steering Board Chairman, Brigadier General Thomas J. Sharpy (USAF), congratulated the HAW Commander, emphasizing the importance of this milestone as an indicator that the SAC is in the forefront of the Smart Defense initiative and a model for Smart Support.

Colonel Boone lauded the personnel of the Wing: "I am extremely proud to lead such a diverse, talented, and focused team of professionals. FOC is a significant achievement in the short history of the HAW. The future remains before us, and it is bright indeed. We might be 12 nations, but we are 1 Team…1 Mission…1 Vision!"