“This is a big step in the joint effort to obtain a capability which is sorely needed by our Alliance. As we defend our security in new ways and in new places, it is absolutely vital that we are able to transport our forces over strategic distance, and to sustain them while they carry out their important work”, said the NATO Secretary General during the ceremony.
The ceremony was hosted by the Hungarian Minister of Defence, Imre Szekeres and was addressed also by the US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates.
With the completion of a Memorandum of Understanding by 12 nations this month, the way has been paved for the creation of a new NATO agency that will acquire C-17 transport aircraft. The new agency NATO Airlift Management Organisation (NAMO) will acquire three C-17 aircraft to meet strategic airlift requirements of the nations participating in the SAC consortium - 10 NATO members as well as the two Partners Sweden and Finland. Launched in September 2006, the consortium has evolved to its current configuration of twelve participants and remains open for other NATO and PfP nations to join in the future.