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The UK Ambassador to Hungary has praised strong ties between the UK and NATO allies Hungary, following deployment of a C-17 to the country for night flying training.

According to a Ministry of Defence press release, a Royal Air Force 99 Squadron C-17 has deployed to Hungary to conduct night vision goggle training – the first time the RAF has made use of Hungary’s C-17 base at Papa airbase. During the C-17 visit the aircraft was intercepted by Hungarian Air Force Gripen interceptors from the 59/1 ‘Puma’ Squadron, in a demonstration of the country’s NATO air policing capability. British Ambassador Iain Lindsay joined the C-17 crew for a flight above the nations famous Lake Balaton, along with VIPs from the Hungarian MOD and Papa airbase.

Following a C-17 flight and assault landing with VIPs from the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, the UK Ambassador, Iain Lindsay, said:

“It was fantastic to fly above Lake Balaton with the C-17 crew and to witness an intercept by Gripens from the Hungarian Air Force. This is the first time the RAF have held a joint exercise working with the Heavy Airlift Wing; it’s a fantastic capability and I hope to see the RAF’s C-17s back in Hungary soon. We value our allies and partners and our existing cooperation. NATO will remain in the heart of UK defence strategy. There’s great scope for more UK-Hungary defence cooperation in the future.”

No. 99 Squadron pilot Flight Lieutenant Ben Mountfield, said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to train at an airfield specifically designed for C-17s. It’s great to enjoy the free airspace around Pápa, which allows us to manoeuvre the aircraft to develop our tactical procedures. Our NATO allies here in Hungary have been so welcoming – they’re beyond reproach. We’re absolutely looking forward to working with them again.”

Pápa Airbase is home to the Heavy Airlift Wing, an alliance of 12 countries that use the C-17 for long-range heavy airlift. As a dedicated C-17 base, Pápa has a number of facilities designed to train aircrew to fly the aircraft in the most demanding conditions, including night operations and assault landings. 99 Squadron’s deployment – dubbed Exercise Hungary Puma – focussed on training with night vision goggles, taking advantage of Pápa’s clear airspace and specialist lighting capabilities.

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