Hungary celebrates 15 years NATO membership at Pápa Air Base

28 March 2014

15 years ago, on 12 March 1999, Hungary became a member of NATO. On the occasion of the anniversary, His Excellency the President of Hungary and the Commander in Chief of the Hungarian Defence Forces, Mr. János Áder visited the Hungarian Defense Forces (HDF) at Pápa Air Base and met with the personnel of the base and the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC).

During his visit to Pápa, Mr. Áder received an update on the developments at the Pápa Air Base, funded by the Host Nation and by the SAC Participating Nations.  Mr Wiek Noldus, NATO Airlift Management (NAM) Programme Manager, and Colonel Trevor Nitz (USAF), vice-Commander of the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW), representing the SAC support and operational organizations, were invited to provide an update on this multinational strategic airlift cooperation. The SAC C-17 aircraft are an important asset for Hungary. The capability is shared with nine other NATO member states and two Partnership of Peace nations, providing assured access to airlift capability.

Hungary has a 1,6 % share of the 3165 flight hours produced annually by the SAC aircraft, but equally important, it is Host Nation for SAC.  The SAC aircraft are Hungarian flagged and the Hungarian National Transportation Authority is overseeing the airworthiness of the airframes and the quality of all aspects of the SAC organization; support, maintenance and operation.

Mr. Áder also attended a base ‘All Call’ event where he addressed the staff from all organizations working at Pápa Air Base. In his speech Mr. Áder mentioned the importance for Hungary to be a member of NATO. “The anniversary is not only a celebration of military or defence policy, but also has great social significance. The Coalition protects loved ones, provides homeland security and the possibility of a peaceful life”, according to the President. The ceremony was completed with handing out several commemorative medals and awards. Among the decorated was Mr László Szarvas, NAM Wing Support Manager, for his outstanding work in support of Hungary and NATO. In addition, the representatives of the three SAC organizations, the NAM Programme Manager, the HAW vice-Commander and the Commander Pápa Air Base, received a commemorative plaque on the occasion of this important event.