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The first-ever multinational strategic airlift unit was officially activated this week at a ceremony at Papa Air Base, Hungary, according to a U.S. Air Forces in Europe release.

Senior diplomatic and defense officials representing 12 nations as well as NATO were on hand for the ceremony Monday to activate the Heavy Airlift Wing. The wing is part of the Strategic Airlift Capability program, which is meant to provide heavy airlift capability to the European Union, United Nations and NATO. Primary among those obligations for all the participants is support to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, the release stated.

The program will begin missions early next month using C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. Many of those missions already are meant to fulfill participating nations’ commitments to ISAF, the release said.

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