C17 airlift capability for NATO displayed
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the President of Latvia, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, and senior Alliance military officials attended of a display of C17 airlift capability in Riga on 27 November.
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the President of Latvia, Vaira Vi-k,e-Freiberga, and senior Alliance military officials attended a display of C17 airlift capability in Riga on 27 November.
The ceremony, a day prior to the meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in the Latvian capital, showcases a joint initiative by 15 NATO member countries and Partner country Sweden to purchase C-17 transport aircraft, in order to provide strategic airlift capability for NATO and other missions.
The capability will initially comprise three C-17s, flown and maintained by multinational aircrews under the command of a multinational military structure.
“Individual nations have chosen to team up and procure and deliver a critically needed Alliance capability – to create added value in an efficient and economical way,” said the Secretary General at the ceremony.
The planes will be used for missions which may be purely national in character but could also be allocated to NATO operations or for UN, EU, or other international purposes (e.g., humanitarian airlift and disaster relief).
The initial operating capability is planned for the latter half of 2007, with the full complement of aircraft and full operating capability in 2009.
The C-17 is a large strategic transport aircraft capable of carrying 77,000 kilograms of cargo over 2,400 nautical miles (4,450 kilometers) and able to operate in difficult environments.
The 15 participating NATO countries are: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and the United States, as well as NATO Partner country Sweden.
This is one of two complementary initiatives aimed at providing NATO with strategic airlift capabilities. The other is the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS), under which a multinational consortium of 16 countries, led by Germany, is chartering Antonov An-124-100 transport aircraft.