In 2006, a group of nations started discussing how they could address a defence capability gap they all faced: inadequate strategic airlift. This group of nations looked at how they could achieve more, for less and with greater flexibility in terms of strategic airlift. In 2008, ten NATO Allies (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, the United States) and two NATO partners (Finland and Sweden) signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the SAC.
The common goal was straightforward: they all needed airlift capability outside the scope of their national capacities and they all believed in developing multinational cooperation based on cost sharing and pooling flight hours. The construct was simple: available flight hours are based on how much a member nation contributes to the annual budget of the programme. The four largest contributors are The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and The United States.
The SAC became operational in 2009 and has been providing the member nations with a flexible and responsive strategic airlift capability for the past decade.