The transport aircraft, in use by many countries including the United States and the United Kingdom, has a length of 53 metres and can carry, for example, two Type 10 or two Type 15 helicopters, a Fast Attack Craft or two CV90 combat armoured vehicles. It is capable of landing on poorly prepared airstrips and can operate in areas where the threat level is high.
Safe and rapid transportation
Sweden has for a long time been negotiating to join with 14 other nations in a collaborative arrangement giving participants access to a pool of three C-17 heavy transport aircraft to provide safe and rapid transportation to and from operational areas.
Sweden intends to purchase 550 flight hours annually. The aircraft are formally owned by NATO but this does not affect their operational use so NATO has, for example, no control over the way in which Sweden makes use of this resource.
Parliamentary decision in the summer
The Government’s decision concerning Swedish participation in the SAC presupposes endorsement by the Swedish parliament. Parliamentary endorsement is expected early this summer. The SAC agreement will only come into force when it has been signed by all participating countries.
“The first aircraft is due to be delivered in November with the other two following in spring and summer next year. But we expect to be able to make use of this facility even before the end of the year, albeit with reduced operational capacity,” says Fredrik Hedén at Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters, who has been leading the Swedish team in these negotiations.
Aircraft wing to be based in Hungary
During the summer preparatory work will begin at Pápa Air Base in western Hungary where the aircraft are to be based. Of the initial 40 personnel to travel to Pápa, seven or eight are expected to be from Sweden. One of these will be Fredrik Hedén who will act as Deputy Wing Commander. When work commences in earnest, Sweden will have 25 personnel stationed with the wing at Pápa Air Base.
“During the summer the Swedish pilots and loadmasters who will be providing the crew for the first aircraft will also be commencing their training in the United States,” says Fredrik Hedén.