NAMA hosts C-17 Virtual Fleet community’s annual meeting in Hungary
The Virtual Fleet (VF) Conference held on 12-17 May 2011 at Pápa Air Base, Hungary reunited executive level representatives of the NATO Airlift Management Agency (NAMA), the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW), as well as from five of the C-17 owner nations that are members of the Virtual Fleet partnership, and the Boeing Company.
Photo Courtesy of Heavy Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The Virtual Fleet is a global network providing integrated life-cycle management and sustainment of the C-17 weapon system. Along with NATO Airlift Management Organization (NAMO) and the United States government, the following C-17 owners hold Virtual Fleet membership: Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates.
About thirty guests from across the Virtual Fleet community were welcomed at Pápa Air Base by Mr Gunnar Borch, NAMA General Manager. In his address, Mr Borch highlighted the unique character of the 12-nation Strategic Airlift Capability initiative and the incredible pace of development from initial discussions at NATO Headquarters (2006) to signature of the SAC Memorandum of Understanding (2008) and execution of the first international airlift operations (2009).
Col Fredrik Hedén, Vice Commander of the HAW, the multinational military unit operating SAC C-17s, and Col M. Domonkos, Commander of Pápa Air Base, delivered presentations of their organizations, followed by a tour of the base.
In the second day of meetings, a large audience from the HAW, the Hungarian base staff and the Hungarian Transportation Safety Board joined the conference for a briefing on crash investigation and recovery, drawing on lessons learned from the July 2010 accident involving USAF C-17 aircraft, at Elmendorf AFB.
Chaired by Col Mark Mol, the outgoing Chief of the C-17 Division, Wright- Patterson AFB, the meeting offered the Virtual Fleet partners an opportunity to coordinate action, share lessons learned, and reunite in working groups. Participants expressed gratitude for the warm and professional reception extended by the NAMA hosts, and the contribution of the HAW and the base command.
The British delegate, Sqn Ldr A. Nicholls, praised the considerable progress registered by the SAC Program, a direct result of “the enthusiasm and personal investment of the individuals in the team and the Host Nation.” The Canadian representative, Lt Col R. Boucher, described SAC as “a truly impressive operational capability built up in very little time” that overcame unprecedented challenges. The Australian Wg Cdr A. Carswell identified significant potential in the facilities put in place at the Hungarian base and envisioned a larger and more diverse fleet to be operated there.
NAMA, the executive arm of NAMO and sole legal entity for the SAC Program, sources the majority of the technical, logistics and training support to the SAC C-17 fleet of three aircraft from the US Government, through their FMS programmes. In this framework, NAMA conducts its Virtual Fleet support partnership business and benefits from major advantages: safety and affordability for the programme; access to a global network of C-17 support bases, parts, and services; and the leverage obtained from the larger USAF organization, and from cooperation with other partners. This enables NAMA to remain lean and flexible to a point without precedent in today’s community of responsible and accountable aerospace support managers.