BRUSSELS, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Ten NATO countries plus Sweden and Finland have completed a deal to purchase and jointly manage a fleet of three C-17 strategic airlifters, said NATO on Wednesday.
The fleet will be based in the Papa airbase in Hungary and the first C-17 aircraft will arrive in the spring of 2009, NATO spokesman James Appathurai told reporters.
The second and third C-17s will be delivered in the summer of 2009. The fleet will be manned by a multinational crew from participating countries.
The ten participating NATO countries to this strategic airlift capability project are Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States.
The C-17 is a large airlifter manufactured by Boeing, which is able to rapidly deploy troops and cargo anywhere in the world.
At present, the U.S. Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force have C-17s. Canada has also acquired three C-17s, which Ottawa says can be used by NATO.