Hungary, one of 28 NATO Allies has marked two milestone achievements with the successful establishment of a new NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Székesfehérvár, and the provision of a new hangar complex for the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) at the Pápa Airbase.
AC Hangar Complex in record time
The new SAC Hangar Complex was officially opened in November 2016.
When the programme started operating in 2008 on Pápa Airbase, there was little infrastructure which could have satisfied the requirements of such an enterprise, housing three of the largest cargo aircrafts in the world.
The need for an on-base hangar and new office and maintenance facilities was identified in 2012, and in 2015, construction works started.
A mere one and a half year later, a modern, large complex was built, which now can accommodate a Boeing C-17, as well as offices for 150 personnel, maintenance facilities and workshops right by the runway.
The Strategic Airlift Capability is an outstanding example of NATO's 'smart defence'. The programme, which hosts, operates and maintains three NATO-owned Boeing C-17s was set up in 2008 to function as a shared airlift capability for the ten NATO and two partner nations included in it. This solution is a unique partnership between NATO, the twelve member countries, the host nation and the Boeing Company.
During the opening ceremony of the hangar complex, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment Ernest J Herold emphasized "SAC is a reminder how much we can achieve if we work together, and the cooperation is continuous".
The new infrastructure was carried out by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), which teamed up with the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency as well for the project among other partners.
NSPA procured the 'TEMPEST Facility Zoning' service from the NCI Agency's Customer Catalogue of Services. TEMPEST Facility Zoning is the provision of electronic evaluation of NATO Facilities and Buildings where NATO Classified information is processed in order to determine their Facility Zone Rating.
New Headquarters in the East
Hungary is the seventh country to host a NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU), after Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. Slovakia will follow in the near future, with the establishment of a small headquarters in Bratislava.
Once operational, these eight NFIUs will ensure that NATO has a visible and persistent presence in every Allied Nation along its Eastern border.
During the opening ceremony of NFIU Hungary in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, Hungarian Defence Minister István Simicskó said: "Today we can open this unit due to a commitment we were long due to make and we eventually made".
NFIUs fall under the command of NATO Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCB). General Salvatore Farina, Commander of JFCB, noted that NFIU Hungary will reinforce the Alliance's collective defence and deterrence posture.
NFIUs are small headquarters, which help facilitate the rapid deployment of Allied forces to the Eastern part of the Alliance, support collective defence planning and assist in coordinating training and exercises. These small headquarters are part of the biggest reinforcement of NATO's collective defence since the end of the Cold War, and part of NATO's Readiness Action Plan; a comprehensive package of measures to respond to the changed security environment on NATO's borders. The NFIUs are a vital link between national forces and forces of other NATO Allies. The Communications and Information System, and CIS interoperability is provided and ensured by the NCI Agency.
"The NFIU in Hungary is a great milestone in increasing the Alliance's responsiveness and also in providing a visible, forward NATO location from the East of the Central Europe Area of Responsibility, on the crossroad between East and West, with its strategic central location, in time of peace, and conflict and crisis. It will act as the eyes and ears on the ground, sharing information with its host country, and with higher commands, as well" he said.
Colonel László Garas, Commander of NFIU Hungary, expressed his gratitude to the NCI Agency for its support in setting up the headquarters' IT infrastructure.
"We have brand new facilities here, which we are about to start using. The CIS infrastructure provided by the NCI Agency is the best in the world, so we are not expecting such technical challenges which could not be resolved by the Hungarian signal and CIS personnel, and with the help of the NCI Agency," he added when asked about potential technical challenges.
Minister Simicskó noted that hosting four NATO units (Startegic Airlift Capability, NFIU, 3rd NATO Signal Battalion Deployable Communications Module and the NATO Centre of Excellence for Military Medicine) in Hungary has been very successful so far.
He added that he hopes to see further cooperation between NATO and his country.
The construction of a new SAC hangar complex and the delivery of an NFIU headquarters could not have been completed successfully without strong commitment from - and close cooperation between - NATO entities, the two larges NATO Agencies, Member and Partner Nations, as well as Industry.