Boeing has delivered the first C-17 under NATO's Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) programme, with aircraft 01 scheduled to arrive at Hungary's Papa air base ahead of a formal introduction ceremony to be held on 27 July.
A delivery event at Boeing's Long Beach production facility in California on 14 July saw the C-17 accepted for the SAC's 12-nation Heavy Airlift Wing. The partnership includes NATO members Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the USA, plus Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden.
To be operated from Papa AB on a pooled basis from late this month, the aircraft will be flown and maintained by multinational crews drawn from the participating nations. In-service and logistics support will be provided through Boeing's Globemaster Sustainment Program, with the NATO Airlift Management Agency expecting the C-17 fleet to remain in use for almost 30 years.
"We look forward to our first mission," says US Air Force Col John Zazworsky, commander of the Heavy Airlift Wing. The C-17s will deliver "advanced airlift capabilities that will save lives around the world", he adds.
NATO's remaining two C-17s - including one funded by the USA - will be handed over during September and October, says Boeing.