Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia jointly opened the Multinational Special Aviation Programme at a ceremony in Zadar, Croatia on 11 December 2019. The training centre is dedicated to training air crews responsible for transporting Special Operations Forces.
The opening was hosted by Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Damir Krstičević, and was attended by Defence Ministers and representatives of the four participating Allies, as well as Chief of General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces General Mirko Šundov, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment Camille Grand, and the Commander of the NATO Special Operations Headquarters, Lieutenant General Eric P. Wendt.
“The Multinational Special Aviation Programme epitomizes what NATO stands for – Allies achieving more together than they ever could individually,” said Assistant Secretary General Grand. He added: “by committing to training the next generation of Special Operations Forces aviation crews in one place, you – the participants – are laying the foundations for ever more seamless joint operations.”
The training centre will start work in 2020 with academic training, before flight training begins in 2021. The location in Zadar offers training opportunities for helicopter crews in various geographic settings – including in the mountains, at sea and on islands.
The Multinational Special Aviation Programme is supported by the NATO Special Operations Headquarters, and benefits from informal ties with the Special Operations aviation communities of selected Allies. This cooperation of Special Operations Forces is unique in NATO. By applying NATO standards, it will increase interoperability amongst the participants, throughout the Alliance and with NATO partners. As such, additional Allies and partner nations may decide to join MSAP in the future, which could lead to a further expansion of the centre’s scope.