PAPA AIR BASE, Hungary — The Multinational Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing conducted its third humanitarian relief mission to Haiti on Feb. 2 to an aid worker camp at the Toussaint L' Ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, from its base in Papa, Hungary.
The mission was flown at the request of the government of Sweden and included supplies donated by Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian relief supplies were transported by the Bulgarian Air Force to Papa Air Base, then prepared for onward movement to combine with cargo being assembled in Sweden.
Only the host nation of Hungary has moved cargo directly out of Papa before, so the cargo transfer made this the first true cargo hub operation of the SAC HAW program.
"On a wider scale this is a small event, but for SAC this is an important milestone," said U.S. Air Force Col. John Zazworsky, Commander of the Heavy Airlift Wing and pilot in command of this mission. "It is a step towards where we want to be in the future: conducting airlift in the most efficient way possible for partner nations."
"Papa Air Base has great potential to become a big cargo hub, where the participating nations of the SAC program will deliver and store material to be further delivered by the Heavy Airlift Wing to their final destinations all over the world," Zazworsky said.
The SAC HAW's first load of relief supplies was delivered to Haiti on Jan. 18. The flight delivered aid workers from Sweden and equipment from Estonia, Finland, Denmark and Norway. The wing delivered a second load of supplies Jan. 21.
The multinational Strategic Airlift Capability consortium was launched three years ago in order to acquire three C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes, to meet strategic airlift requirements of participating nations for national missions, including missions in support of NATO, the European Union and the United Nations.
The first SAC C-17 Globemaster was delivered to Pápa Air Base in July 2009 and the second C-17 arrived in September and a third in October.
Ten NATO nations participate in the SAC HAW, including, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States, along with Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden.
The Partnership for Peace is a program of practical bilateral cooperation between individual Partner countries and NATO. It allows Partner countries to build up an individual relationship with NATO, choosing their own priorities for cooperation.