The long-range C-17 Globemaster III heavy transport aircraft remains the backbone of US Air Mobility Command inter-theater transport around the world, and its ability to operate from shorter and rougher runways has made it especially useful during the Global War on Terror. Recent buys by Australia, Britain, and Canada have broadened the plane’s its global use. Now NATO, who has relied on the SALIS arrangement and its leased super-giant AN-124s from Russia, is looking to buy and own 3 C-17s as NATO pooled assets with multinational crews. Participating countries will receive allocated flight hours relative to their participation, and thus far they include 12 nations: Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United States.
This order will not materially change the coming shut-down of C-17 production, but it does look like the inauguration of a pool that will fill a gaping hole in Europe’s defense capabilities – its complete lack of heavy airlift. This article covers NATO C-17 acquisition program, including its structure and ongoing announcements.
Program is now an adequate name, as NATO SAC has signed a contract, all 3 aircraft have been delivered, and SAC C-17s have been busy on missions for a couple of years now.