Lithuanian member in the international crew of NATO aircraft

Lithuanian member in the international crew of NATO aircraft


On August 7 , after more than four months in transport aircraft „C-17 Boeing Globemaster III" Onboard Operator Courses, Sgt. Mindaugas Šalkauskas came back to the Lithuanian Air Force Aviation Base. The soldier will continue service in the multinational crew of „C-17" aircraft acquired by Lithuania with other participants of NATO's Strategic Airlift Programme. Sgt. M. Šalkauskas will work in Papa Aviation Base in Hungary - a permanent deployment place of „C-17" aircrafts of NATO Heavy Airlift Wing.

Sgt. M. Šalkauskas underwent two phases of training. Primary training of „C-17" onboard operator (one of the three members of „C-17" crew) took place in Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Lithuanian Sergeant graduated from the course with commendation - his 100 score from all the 10 tests in the course was the highest rating of 10 international students. After around a month of primary courses he was given airman's badge.

Afterwards Sgt. M. Šalkauskas attended three-month theoretical-practical courses in Oklahoma to acquire qualification of onboard operator. During the courses he "flied" 30 hours in „C-17" simulator almost daily and received the "Excellent" assessment.

„We are proud that our soldier was rated as excellent student throughout the courses and received all the qualification certificates. Besides, he heard good news from home while studying abroad - his wife gave birth to a daughter", said Head of Aviation Base Lt. Col. Audronis Navickas.

Sgt. Mindaugas Šalkauskas - is the first Lithuanian soldier who was trained to participate in NATO's Strategic Airlift Programme. Equipment for the NATO-funded courses was provided by the USA. One more Lithuanian member is planned to undergo the same training in the future.


Onboard operator of „C-17" aircraft performs functions of onboard mechanic, loading and communications specialist.

Multilateral agreement on creating strategic (i.e. long range) airlifting capabilities by collectively purchasing three „C-17" aircrafts came into force on 23 October 2008. The document was signed by 10 members of NATO - Bulgaria, the USA, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovenia and Hungary, and two NATO partners - Finland and Sweden. The agreement stipulates that parties to the agreement will use aircrafts to conduct all types of NATO and the EU-led international operations - military, humanitarian, and other. According to the document crews of aircrafts will be formed on international basis from representatives of parties to the agreement.


As participant of the NATO's Airlift Programme Lithuania has the right to use the yearly limit of 45 flight hours with „C-17" for flights to mission regions; participation in the programme will also help to contribute to creating lacking joint NATO capabilities.


1st Lt Agnė Balčiauskytė, Aviation Base.

Pictures of Lithuanian Air Force Aviation Base and personal archives of Sgt. M. Šalkauskas.