NATO Strategic Airlift Capability
The Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) is a consortium of 12 nations, 10 of which are member states of NATO  and two of which are Partners For Peace, to pool together resources to purchase and operate Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft for joint strategic airlift purposes.

The SAC concept was originally intended to be operated in a fashion similar to NATO's E-3
E-3 Sentry
The Boeing E-3 Sentry is an airborne warning and control system developed by Boeing as the prime contractor. Derived from the Boeing 707, it provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications, and is used by the United States Air Force , NATO, Royal Air Force , French Air Force...

 AWACS aircraft program, but is independent of NATO command. Unlike the NATO AWACS program, SAC does not require the unanimous agreement among its partners for operations. Flight hours and mission assignments are determined by a steering committee chaired by a general officer of the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...


The operational organization of SAC is the Heavy Airlift Wing
Heavy Airlift Wing
The Heavy Airlift Wing is a multinational military airlift organization based at Pápa Air Base, Hungary. It was officially activated on July 27, 2009 as part the Strategic Airlift Capability consortium. The consortium purchased and operates three C-17 Globemaster III aircraft that fly under the...

, a multi-national force based in Hungary and commanded by a colonel of a member nation. Nearly all operational aircraft maintenance is provided by a 50-man contractor team provided by Boeing
The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois since 2001...

. Each SAC nation jointly owns a share of the SAC aircraft, currently three in number, and acquires total annual flight hours according to its own contribution share that it may use at its own national discretion.


The Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) concept originated at NATO HQ in mid-2006. NATO officials and national representatives envisaged a partnered solution that would satisfy a need for strategic airlift for member states without the economic resources to field a permanent capability. Originally this idea was called the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability (NSAC). In October 2006 the first non-NATO nation joined the initiative and the concept changed its name to the SAC and moved outside the Alliance.


Member states are NATO members Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, and the United States of America, and Partnership for Peace countries Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. The SAC's initial participants also included the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

, Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, and Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, which withdrew after Hungary, Finland, Norway and Sweden signed the Letter of Intent. On 23 September 2008 the Memorandum Of Understanding MOU
MOU, MoU, Mou or mou may refer to:* Memorandum of understanding* Minutes of Use, in telecommunication operations* Ministry of Unification, a branch of the South Korean government.* The Museum of Osaka University...

 came into effect.

The MOU regulates the participation of the two Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations in NATO Airlift Management Organisation (NAMO) and formally established the SAC program to acquire, manage and support three C-17 Globemaster III airlifters. The MOU also directs the formation of the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) to operate the aircraft from Papa Air Base in central Hungary, and provides for the other assets needed to meet national requirements of the SAC member countries. NAMO's executing agency for the MOU is the NATO Airlift Management Agency (NAMA). The NAMA was activated in October 2008 and immediately began the process of supporting HAW's activation of Papa AB, and acquiring the C-17 aircraft and their support from the USA under Foreign Military Sales
Foreign Military Sales
The U.S. Department of Defense's Foreign Military Sales program facilitates sales of U.S. arms, defense equipment, defense services, and military training to foreign governments...

 (FMS) program of the US Air Force.


The first aircraft was delivered on 14 July 2009.. The C-17 Globemasters are based at Pápa
Pápa is a historical city in Veszprém county, Hungary, located close to the northern edge of the Bakony Hills, and noted for its baroque architecture. With its 33,000 inhabitants, it is the cultural, economic and tourism centre of the region....

 Air Force Base in Hungary.

A unique feature of the SAC program is its aviation safety certification system. This system called the Concept of Total Aviation Safety (CONTAS) is based upon a heavily adapted version of the US Air Force's C-17 safety system, the principles of design and operation of heavy airlift aircraft as described by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and the mandatory requirements of the Hungarian National Transport Authority who are the national authority that registers the aircraft and certifies the operations of the HAW, and the support provided by NAMA. This system has been accepted by all the SAC nations and as such is one of the World's first true multi-national military aviation safety systems.


The Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS) is a similar agreement between 15 NATO participants (Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey). The program leases a number of Antonov An-124
Antonov An-124
The Antonov An-124 Ruslan is a strategic airlift jet aircraft. It was designed by the Ukrainian SSR's Antonov design bureau, then part of the Soviet Union. It is the world's largest ever serially-manufactured cargo airplane and world's second largest operating cargo aircraft...

 aircraft permanently for NATO missions which might occur. The aircraft are contracted from the Volga-Dnepr
Volga-Dnepr Airlines, LLC is an airline based in Ulyanovsk, Russia. It operates scheduled and charter passenger and cargo services, but specialises in outsize cargo operations using the world's largest fleet of Antonov An-124 aircraft. It is a world leader in the global market for the movement of...

 heavylift company and from Antonov Airlines
Antonov Airlines
Antonov Airlines is a Ukrainian cargo airline. It operates international charter services in the world oversized cargo market. Its main base is Gostomel Airport near Kiev...


External links

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