SAC celebrates its 5 year anniversary of flight operations

01 September 2014

Nine months after the stand-up of the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) in July 2009, the NATO Airlift Management (NAM) Programme was able to accept the first SAC C-17 Globemaster III and hand over the keys to the Commander of the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW), the operational arm of SAC, signifying the start of flying operations.  Today the SAC celebrates its fifth year anniversary of flight operations at their home base in Pápa, Hungary. 

From day one, the NATO Airlift Management (NAM) Programme has worked tirelessly on behalf of the SAC nations in the acquisition of the C-17 aircraft, associated support equipment, facilities, registration and airworthiness certification of the aircraft.

At the ceremony, Mr Wiek Noldus, the NAM Programme Manager, stated, “One of the strong features of SAC is the commitment of the member nations to jointly own and operate the SAC C-17’s for at least 30 years. We continue to invest in the future and optimization of SAC. A good example is the realization of new offices and a C-17 size hangar.  The hangar will allow us to provide increased maintenance here at Pápa Air Base, reducing downtime and translating into added aircraft availability.”

“Another good example is the arrangement for  the air crews to have their simulator training in the United Kingdom instead of the United States from January 2015, saving travel time and money, making the organization more efficient.” added Mr Noldus.

In his remarks, Col Frank Rombouts (RNLAF), Commander of the HAW, highlighted that, “the Wing currently delivers global airlift on a daily basis. High and low-level airdrop, tactical operations day and night, the Heavy Airlift Wing can do it all! With a shift to more varied destinations, around the world, we deliver global airlift to fulfil the needs of the SAC participating nations. SAC is the proof that the concept of SMART Defence can be turned into reality in a cost effective way”.

In its day-to-day tasks the NAM Programme performs the full array of duties associated with ownership of the aircraft and all related equipment. This work has evolved into two main streams:

  • Weapon System Management, to assure the continued airworthiness of the C-17 fleet, and
  • Wing Support Management, to provide direct support to the HAW and the SAC community in Pápa, Hungary.


NAM also  manages the finance, procurement, IT-support and HR-support using reach back capacity at the NATO Support Agency (NSPA) in Capellen Luxembourg whenever required.

The festivities were concluded with a Family Barbeque to reward the people that made it all happen; HAW crew members, NAM staff members, Boeing employees assigned to Pápa Air Base and their families. 

Speech at the 5 year SAC flight operations celebration ceremony Col Frank Rombouts, Mr Wiek Noldus, Mr. Tamás Áldozó (mayor of Pápa), Brigadier General Zoltan Mihocza (the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Hungarian Defence Forces Joint Forces Command) and Mr Bob McMahon (Boeing Director of C-17 Field Operations) cutting the cake to celebrate 5 year of SAC flight operation.