by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the ground breaking ceremony for the new hangar at Papa Airbase, Hungary
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here today, to meet all those who make this vital project possible.
Four years ago this month, the first aircraft in of the Strategic Airlift Capability arrived in Hungary. This capability has clearly demonstrated its value, in operational and financial terms.
You have flown over 10,000 hours. Carried over 29,000 tons of cargo. And moved over 38,000 passengers. You have supported NATO-led operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and humanitarian relief missions in Haiti and Pakistan. And you have helped assist the United Nations and the African Union.
You have also demonstrated considerable value for money. Ten NATO Allies and two partner nations have come together, gaining access to a key capability that they would have been unable to provide on their own. This multinational approach is a model for NATO. And it shows how we can deliver the modern military capabilities we need, despite the economic crisis.
So I would also like to thank Hungary for hosting the Strategic Airlift Capability and helping turn the concept into reality. And I know that the local community is proud of its link with NATO.
Finally, let me thank you, the people who operate, maintain and sustain this fleet of C17 aircraft. Your work is making a vital contribution to our Alliance and your nations. You are doing it with great professionalism and dedication. And you deserve the best working conditions.
The new hangar complex will mean reduced maintenance costs, because more will be done right here. And it will mean greater aircraft availability, because more planes will be at their main operating base and ready for mission performance.
Therefore, it is a great pleasure to break the ground for the new hangar.