- Air Force
- International cooperation
Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC)
The Netherlands takes part in the international Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) initiative, currently consisting of 12 participating nations. At the heart of this program is the fleet of three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, to be used by the participating nations for strategic airlift.
The operational branch of the Strategic Airlift Capability, the so-called Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) has purchased three Globemaster III transport aircraft. The aircraft were delivered in 2009 and are stationed at Pápa Air Base in Hungary. The participating nations have committed themselves to jointly carry out maintenance of these three transport aircraft over a period of 30 years.
The transport aircraft are operated by crews from the 12 participating nations and each nation will decide independently on the type of missions they will be using the aircraft for. The Netherlands has purchased 500 flying hours on an annual basis. Command of the Heavy Airlift Wing will be held by officers from the participating nations on a rotational basis.
The aim of this joint initiative is to meet the large need for strategic airlift capability within NATO and the EU. This form of cooperation is a major contributing factor towards accomplishing a more efficient use of the available materiel.
HAW is a NATO-US initiative that eventually evolved into a multi-national project with participation from 12 nations. HAW is not a NATO organisation. Operational control is carried out by the nations directly and a dedicated Steering Board. HAW has its own Command and Control cell (C2) which is responsible for planning and execution of missions.
SAC consists of 10 NATO nations, i.e.: Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Romania and the United States, and two so-called partnership-for-peace nations, i.e. Finland and Sweden. Starting in 2009, a unit of 20 RNLAF personnel was posted to Papá Air Base.
The C-17 is the only military airlift aircraft with the capacity to carry cargoes exceeding the ordinary container measurements that is also fitted with self protection equipment and can be refuelled in mid-air. Its purpose-built avionic features enable the C-17 to operate in areas with a relatively high threat level. This transport aircraft is also capable of landing both during the day and during night time on very short and even unpaved or damaged runways.