“After an intensive period with numerous hardships and challenges in true pioneer spirit, we are finally on our way,” says Fredrik Hedén deputy commander of Heavy Airlift Wing and head of the Swedish contingent.
The first C-17 will reach the air base in mid July and will immediately go into service for transport, tests, training and exercises over a two-week period. The aircraft will officially become operational at the end of July when the SAC partner nations can start using the C-17 for various transport tasks. Altogether some 25 Swedish officers and civilian personnel and their families will be stationed in Pápa, Hungary. The first families arrived last September and 13 Swedish children now attend school there alongside Hungarian and American classmates.
The first Swedish Armed Forces unit emplaning officers and pilots are currently undergoing training at the ALTUS air base in the USA. The aim is for all 10 Swedish crew members to be fully trained by mid June and be then able to start flying the aircraft straightaway.
The C-17 transporter is 53 metres in length with a maximum payload of around 75 tons. (Such as two helicopter 10s, or two helicopter 15s, one assault craft or two combat vehicle 90s.) It can also land on short airstrips and poor surfaces and operate close to potential battle areas.
The second aircraft will be operational in September and the third by late October.
“Having opened negotiations in summer 2006, our first C-17 will arrive less than three years later,” says Hedén, who adds, “this is very rapid by international standards and a clear indication of how well the 12 nations work together.
Sweden will have 550 flying hours a year at its disposal. Although NATO formally owns the aircraft, the organisation has no operational say and cannot dictate how Sweden, for instance, deploys this resource.