Boeing today announced that an international consortium of 10 NATO members – joined by Partnership for Peace nations Sweden and Finland – signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Sept. 24 to acquire three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III long-range cargo jets. The agreement sets the stage for NATO’s first major defense purchase in 30 years.
Under the agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense and the NATO Airlift Management Agency, two of the advanced airlifters would be purchased from Boeing, while a third would be provided by the U.S. Air Force. The aircraft would be assigned to NATO’s Heavy Airlift Wing and jointly operated by the nations from PÃ¡pa Air Base, Hungary. Delivery of the first aircraft could take place as early as spring 2009.
Each participating nation would pay for a portion of a C-17 rather than an entire aircraft, allowing them to share a pooled fleet. The 12 countries participating in NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) program are Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and the United States.
The C-17 fleet will allow each nation to meet its airlift requirements to support sovereign and multinational mission requirements. NATO does not currently own a heavy airlift capability and frequently contracts with nations such as the United States and Russia for assistance with its heavy airlift requirements. The MOU calls for Boeing to establish a facility at PÃ¡pa Air Base to provide C-17 logistics support under the current Globemaster Support Partnership.
There are 192 operational C-17s worldwide – 178 with the U.S. Air Force; six with the Royal Air Force (UK); four with the Royal Australian Air Force, and four with the Canadian Forces. Boeing received a contract in July to provide the C-17 to Qatar, with deliveries starting in late summer 2009.