TALLINN, Estonia -- U.S. Air Force Col. Keith P. Boone, Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing commander, declared the multinational wing has achieved a Full Operational Capability status.
In a statement to the SAC steering board and NATO Airlift Management Organization Board of Directors at a semi-annual meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, Boone stated "as the HAW commander I have the privilege to declare that effective 14 November 2012 the Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing has reached Full Operational Capability."
The SAC is a cooperative effort of 12 nations: Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and the United States. Its operational arm, the HAW, is stationed at Papa Air Base, Hungary, and flies worldwide missions with Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.
The HAW was activated on July 27, 2009, and reached initial operational capability on May 25, 2010. During this initial period the wing not only became a well-trained international military airlift unit, but also proved capable of supporting the participating nations with strategic airlift missions in all major operational areas.
As preconditions for FOC, the wing can safely and effectively conduct the entire range of missions assigned to it with three C-17 aircraft, full manning, sufficient infrastructure and logistical sustainment. The wing is supported by the participating SAC nations, the host nation of Hungary, the NATO Airlift Management Program and Boeing Field Services. Post-FOC, the HAW is able to produce the annual flight hours required by the SAC member nations.
Boone lauded the unit when he said, "The men and women of the Heavy Airlift Wing, along with their families, have worked exceptionally hard to build a team that is second to none. Together with the mission partners here at Papa Air Base and around the world, we have forged a great example of pooling and sharing, smart defense, and smart support. I am extremely proud to lead such a diverse, talented, and focused bunch of professionals.
"FOC is a significant achievement in the short history of the HAW. The future remains before us, and it is bright indeed. We might be 12 nations, but we are one team, one mission, one vision!"
Since the delivery of the first aircraft in July 2009, the HAW has flown more than 8,000 flight hours, delivered more than 24,000 tons of cargo and moved more than 32,000 passengers for the SAC nations across six continents, including missions to Haiti, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South Africa.