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 Jun 10 2020

Strategic Airlift International Solution: A key capability during COVID-19 and beyond


RAMSTEIN, Germany - Strategic airlift is an important capability enabling the deployment of forces and equipment rapidly and wherever required. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the NATO-supported Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) has played a key role providing this capability to airlift urgent medical equipment to NATO Allies.

Since mid-March, SALIS – managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) – has airlifted over 950 tons of urgently needed medical supplies for many of its nine NATO participating nations; the programme’s crews have flown a total of 468 hours. “SALIS has demonstrated to be a successful multinational programme, assuring access to unique airlift capabilities during crisis,” said Mr Franck Verdierre, NSPA Head of Transportation and Warehousing. “The majority of our SALIS customers have used their flying hours to deliver the required medical cargo and protect their population in the challenging time resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. 

SALIS has demonstrated to be a successful multinational programme, assuring access to unique airlift capabilities during crisis
         

Since 2006, participating nations have used the SALIS capability to meet their operational requirements on a daily basis, not only during the present exceptional situation. The programme provides assured access to up to five Antonov AN-124 strategic cargo aircraft within few days from tasking to execution. Since the first SALIS flight in February 2006, SALIS planes have flown over 2,200 missions with more than 44,100 flying hours. Participating nations have used the giant aircraft to transport equipment to and from Afghanistan, deliver aid to victims of an earthquake in Pakistan in October 2008, and airlift African Union peacekeepers in and out of Darfur. 

The current contract with Antonov Logistics SALIS (ALS) also includes access to AN-22, AN-225 and IL-76 Chap IV aircraft regularly supporting ongoing NATO and EU missions and operations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, SALIS AN-124 and AN-225 planes have played and continue to play a vital role in assuring airlift requirements for some of the participating nations.

The Czech government tasked the first missions in mid-March; in the second half of March an AN-124 airlifted more than 100 tons of medical equipment including protective suits, respirators and protective goggles from south eastern China to Pardubice airport. Another AN-124 aircraft executed a mission in support to Slovakia on March 25 delivering around 55 tons of protective equipment to the nation. Germany completed six missions between April 23 and May 14 airlifting more than 300 tons of supplies including nearly 41 million of protective masks for first-line emergency responders. The second German mission was executed with an AN-225 aircraft, the largest and heaviest cargo plane in the world. Due to congestions are airports the cargo was loaded in three different locations in China and hauled to the SALIS home base in Leipzig/Halle, Germany. Since April 7, the Polish Government has tasked five missions to SALIS: executed by five AN-124 aircraft a total of almost 300 tonnes of equipment and supplies was flown into Wroclaw airport. The last COVID-19-related mission so far was accomplished at Wroclaw on June 3.  

SALIS is a programme created in 2006 to provide its participating nations – currently NATO Allies Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – unique air transport capability also for outsized cargo. In December 2018, NSPA signed a contract with the German-based Antonov Logistics Salis company for short-notice assured access of up to five commercial strategic airlift aircraft AN-124 aircraft.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based in information provided by the NSPA Public Affairs Office 

Nine NATO Allies are participating in the multinational SALIS programme providing them assurred access to a unique airlift capability including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy NSPA.
The Polish Government has tasked five missions to SALIS; executed by five AN-124 aircraft a total of almost 300 tonnes of equipment and supplies was flown into Wroclaw airport, the last flight was accomplished on June 3.  Photo courtesy NSPA.
One of six missions Germany tasked to SALIS was conducted by an AN-225, the world's largest and heaviest cargo plane. Photo courtesy NSPA.

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