On this ocassion, the NATO Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero joined Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai, Minister of Defence Imre Szekeres, as well as high-level civilian and military representatives of the twelve SAC participating nations1 and officials representing structures responsible for the project’s implementation. The event also brought to the airfield hundreds of interested members of the local public, who were able to tour the C-17.
The Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) – which will operate the fleet of C17s – was activated during the ceremony, with a symbolic handing of the HAW flag by Minister Szekeres to HAW Commander, Col. John Zazworsky.
In his speech, the NATO Deputy Secretary General said: “Building on the experiences and lessons learned from two decades of operation of another highly successful multi-national capability – the NATO Airborne Early Warning fleet (the AWACs) – the SAC exemplifies what can be accomplished when nations come together for a common purpose – to acquire, collectively, a capability that would be beyond the means of nations, acting individually. This is the true testimony of Allied solidarity.”
In his turn, Prime Minister Bajnai expressed his gratitude “…for the confidence placed in Hungary as the host nation for the Main Operating base for the C-17s,” and called the ceremony, which comes 10 years after Hungary joined the Alliance, “a very historic moment”.
- 12 participating nations: 10 NATO Nations (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, the United States) and 2 Partners (Finland and Sweden)