Military Aviation

USAF wants to replicate Heavy Airlift Wing model in Africa using C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft

To help with humanitarian missions, the USAF plans to call on a collection of African nations to pool funds to buy a small number of Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft to comprise a new, shared fleet.

To help with humanitarian missions, the US Air Force (USAF) plans to call on a collection of African nations to pool funds to buy a small number of Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft to comprise a new, shared fleet, Aviation Week reports.

The idea will be a main discussion point at a meeting of the Association of African Air Forces (AAAF) in Senegal in October says Gen. James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa. The group recently met at a lower level to talk about the idea before the air chiefs come together.

The C-130s will have to initially focus on the shared humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions from a central location on the continent. The aircraft could eventually help with counter-extremism operations although the focus will be on HADR, Hecker tells Aviation Week in an interview. The AAAF includes 28 nations, which formally signed an agreement in 2015 to network air capabilities on the continent. Ten African nations operate the aircraft already, according to Aviation Week data.

The model is based on the Strategic Airlift Capability’s Heavy Airlift Wing (SAC’s HAW). The SAC is the first multinational initiative in the world that aims at maximizing military strategic airlift capability through the sharing of resources and pooling of capacity.

It is a conglomerate of twelve partnering nations (Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and the US), independent of international organizations and command structures.

HAW was officially activated on Jul. 27, 2009 as part of the SAC program, which purchased and operates three C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft that fly under the national markings of Hungary.

HAW is overseen by the SAC Steering Board, which manages its activities with support of NATO Airlift Management Programme Office (NAM PO). The SAC sets requirements and the NAM PO executes those requirements by sourcing the majority of the technical, logistic, and training support to the C-17 fleet from the US and its military and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programs, including C-17 maintenance which are contracted with Boeing.

Photo credit: Air National Guard

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. C-17A Globemaster III 60th Air Mobility Wing / 349th Air Mobility Wing, 21st Airlift Squadron, 06-6160 – Travis AFB, CA
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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