The fleet of three C-17s operated by the multinational Heavy Airlift Wing at Papa AB, Hungary, has reached 3,000 flight hours, less than 18 months into its existence. Members of the wing, which the 12 participating NATO and partner nations activated in July 2009, had accumulated 1,000 flight hours back in February and needed only until Dec. 7 to triple that mark. “The amount of flight hours shows that the HAW is definitely becoming a fully operational unit,” said Air Force Col. John Zazworsky, HAW commander, in a Papa release. He added, “We have well-trained crews and the maintenance of the planes is running smoothly.” Among their missions in 2010, HAW aircrews supported earthquake-relief activities in Haiti and post-flood assistance in Pakistan. December is slated to be the wing’s busiest month yet, with 378 flight hours projected by month’s end.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.