Busy times for the new SAC Interim Cargo Facility

16 April 2014

Only two months after the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) Interim Cargo Facility (ICF) was inaugurated for use and handed over by the NATO Airlift Management Programme Office (NAM PO) to the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW), it already has shown its value as an important addition to the cargo handling capability of the HAW.

The NAM PO acquires, manages, and sustains SAC C-17 Globemaster III transportation aircraft and other aeronautical products, and provides site/admin support to the HAW at Pápa Air Base, Hungary. Together with the HAW, it jointly delivers strategic airlift for the SAC participating nations.

On 4 April, the facility at Pápa Air Base, home base for SAC, received the first transit cargo that was then stored in the facility for transport to its final destination, marking an increase in the capability to use Pápa as a cargo hub for the logistics needs of the 12 SAC member nations. The first cargo stored at the ICF was delivered to Pápa by ‘SAC 03’ flying a mission from Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan on a request by the Netherlands. After the arrival of the mission, the HAW Aerial Port personnel unloaded the cargo and transported it to the 1800 m2 temporary storage facility. From Pápa, the cargo will continue its way home to the Netherlands on a land transport.

According to Lt Col Kjell-Arne Nilsen, the Commander of the HAW Logistics Support Squadron, the first mission utilizing the ICF clearly shows the benefits of the new facility. “ICF supports the use of Pápa Air Base as a real cargo hub of SAC C-17 airlift operations. When cargo can be stored at the base in semi-climate controlled conditions protected from the weather, it gives SAC nations the opportunity to choose the optimal combination of air and land transport to and from Pápa for their cargo taking the urgency and cost of the delivery in account.” ICF can host palletized cargo and vehicles, both regularly transported by the HAW. Even before the first cargo pallet was moved in to the facility, it also provided support to a very different kind of operation. Responding to a request for support by the Armed Forces of the Netherlands, Heavy Airlift Wing offered the facility to be used as a parachute rigging station for troops participating in Várpalota Challenge 2014, the joint exercise of the Royal Netherlands Army and the Hungarian Defence Forces held from March to April in Hungary.