The first of three C-17 Globemaster III aircraft has arrived at Hungary's Papa airbase to mark the activation of the Heavy Airlift Wing.
The Globemaster aircraft will perform strategic, tactical, military, humanitarian, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and peacekeeping missions under the Strategic Airlift Capability initiative.
The SAC 01 airlifter will primarily undertake scheduled missions to support the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Operational missions for the C-17 will begin in early August 2009 flying about 630 hours by the end of 2009 and over 3,100 flying hours in 2010.
A typical mission transporting troops and equipment from Pápa to Afghanistan and back will require about 15 flight hours.
The SAC programme builds upon the experiences of the NATO Airborne Early Warning fleet.
The participating nations include NATO members — Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the US, and partners —Finland and Sweden.