Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing multinational aircrew members from Papa Air Base, Hungary, partnered with a Critical Care Aeromedical Transportation Team stationed on Ramstein to receive two wounded patients June 8 in Bulgaria.
Two units came together for this first CCATT mission to transport patients, with one in critical condition, traveling approximately 2,000 miles from Bulgaria to Ramstein where they would receive additional medical support.
“Our C-17 (Globemaster III) pilots always had the capability to accomplish a CCATT mission,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Stephen Blackstone, Heavy Airlift Wing pilot. “Our airframe is designed to become a flying intensive care unit, and it is great to showcase our ability to accomplish this, integrating that experience is only going to make us better.”
Adapting the best practices in the U.S. Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, the Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing ensures they are operationally ready for any mission, securing their role as the world’s first and only multinational C-17 wing. The wing’s structure is designed to operate in support of the Strategic Airlift Capability’s mission of providing combat and humanitarian airlift, airdrop and aeromedical evacuation wherever and whenever required.
“It was a great experience working with all the nations on board,” said Maj. Scott Jensen, 86th Medical Squadron critical care air transport team physician. “The most important thing we learned during the mission is that the Heavy Airlift Wing’s team is capable of executing a flawless patient transport, and it is definitely something I see us utilizing more in the future.”
Though members include the U.S. and 11 European countries, the SAC program operates independently from any command of the European Union, United Nations or NATO.
“Apart from the U.S. pilots, none of the other nation’s personnel in this squadron have previous experience flying a C-17,” Blackstone said. “We have fighter, helicopter, even propeller pilots operating this massive cargo airframe, so our training needs to be the best of the best to respond to these real-world missions.”
In 2014, the Heavy Airlift Wing accomplished 251 mission requests from 12 nations and transported more than 20 million pounds of cargo.
“We perform essentially every mission a U.S. C-17 unit does,” Blackstone said.
“Medical evacuation, strategic airlift and tactical airlift, and now CCATT AirEvac to name a few, as well as accomplish missions requested by the other 11 nations that are a part of our unit.”
By accomplishing the CCATT mission, the Heavy Airlift Wing team hopes they will be utilized more often and for more diverse operations.
“Every new mission set we do is rewarding to the unit,” Blackstone said. “We undergo a lot of training to ensure we maintain these abilities, and I believe we are one of the best options to accomplish CCATT missions, especially with how close we are to Ramstein.”
The Strategic Airlift Capability gives its member nations cost-effective access to jointly owned and operated strategic airlift.