Heavy Airlift Wing receives third, final C-17
By 2nd Lt. Brian Wagner, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 16, 2009
PAPA AIR BASE, Hungary (AFNS) -- The third and final C-17 Globemaster III to complete the Heavy Airlift Wing aircraft inventory arrived here Oct. 12 and was welcomed by the Hungarian Chief of Defense General Laszlo Tombol and other civic leaders from the surrounding communities.
The delivery of the third aircraft marks the completion of the HAW that has been in the buildup stage for the past year.
"This is a very important milestone of the improvement of the Heavy Airlift Wing to fulfill the task to build this wing," said General Tombol during the ceremony. "For this challenge of setting up this wing, I wish you all the best."
The HAW's three aircraft will meet the strategic airlift requirements of the 12 Strategic Airlift Capability member nations for missions in support of NATO, the European Union and the U.N. One of the wing's current primary obligations is to support the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
"This is a great day for the SAC program, it's a great day for NATO, it's a great day for Hungary and a great day for Papa," said Gunnar Borch, NATO Airlift Management Agency general manager. "We have reached another very important milestone in the SAC program."
U.S. Air Force Col. John Zazworsky, HAW commander, piloted the first aircraft delivered to Papa Air Base and was on board for the delivery mission of the latest C-17.
"The delivery of this third plane came on a very special day," Colonel Zazworsky said. "When we picked up the airplane last week, it was the one-year anniversary of when just 14 of us started working here in Papa alongside the Hungarian air force to start this project.
"One year later, with the help of NAMA, Boeing, the Hungarian armed forces and the country of Hungary, we had all three of our airplanes in the air on the same day," he said.
The first C-17 was delivered to Papa AB on July 18 and the second aircraft arrived here Sept. 21. The wing was officially activated in a multinational ceremony held July 27.
Over the past year, various U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airmen have been working to get the wing fully functional. Currently, there are 42 Airmen assigned to the HAW, working in partnership with 90 Airmen from 11 other nations.
The SAC comprises 10 NATO and two Partnership for Peace nations: Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland (PfP), Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden (PfP), Romania and the United States.