SAC Heavy Airlift Wing C-17 Fleet Reaches 10 000 Flying Hours

05 April 2013


A total flying time of 10 000 flying hours is the latest achievement of the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW).

The 10 000 FH mark of the SAC fleet – three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III long-range cargo jets – was passed on the 2nd April 2013 on a training mission from the wing home base Pápa Air Base, Hungary by SAC-2, used for a check flight.

The HAW became active in July 2009 and its development from establishment phase to a fully operational unit has been quick.

Since the launch of the HAW, its C-17s have flown 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 performed a variety of missions according to the requests of the member nations.

In terms of number of missions, the most extensive operation of the HAW has been the support to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan since 2009.  The most recent new operation the wing entered in March this year, was to support the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) actions in Mali taken according to a UN Security Council Resolution.

The Heavy Airlift Wing Commander, Colonel Frank Rombouts, expressed his sincere appreciation to all the SAC personnel to include the Heavy Airlift Wing, NATO Airlift Management Programme Office (NAMPO) and Boeing that make the C-17 operations of the multinational unit possible.

He also included Pápa Air Base, operated and maintained by the Hungarian Defence Forces, in his congratulations for making it possible to fly the C-17s on a daily basis.

"It would never have been possible without all the dedication and hard work of all personnel involved in the SAC Programme", Rombouts said.

The Strategic Airlift Capability and its operative arm, the Heavy Airlift Wing, based at Pápa Air Base, is a joint initiative of 12 nations: Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States (NATO members) and Finland and Sweden (NATO Partnership for Peace nations).

The 12 nations provide the programme with resources and personnel, and use it according to their agreed share of flying hours. Hungary is the host nation of the wing providing Pápa Air Base as its home base. The SAC C-17s also bear the Hungarian military aircraft insignia.

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 parts.

The aim of the SAC Programme with an expected lifespan of at least 30 years is to provide its member nations with strategic airlift capability, a resource needed in many different international and domestic operations. By acquiring, sharing and operating the C-17 fleet together the member nations can achieve access to an airlift resource that would be for most of them unfeasible to operate alone.

HAW Flight Hour Milestones:

  • • 1 000 flight hours: 12th February, 2010
  • • 2 000 flight hours: 12th August, 2010
  • • 3 000 flight hours: 7th December, 2010
  • • 4 000 flight hours: 1st April, 2011
  • • 5 000 flight hours: 9th September, 2011
  • • 6 000 flight hours: 9th December, 2011
  • • 7 000 flight hours: 1st April, 2012
  • • 8 000 flight hours: 16th August, 2012
  • • 9 000 flight hours: 7th December, 2012
  • • 10 000 flight hours: 2nd April, 2013