A Ukrainian cargo plane reportedly carrying medical supplies for coronavirus patients landed in Wroclaw, Poland on Thursday (16 April 2020) to help the country’s fight against COVID-19.
This is the second mission that the Polish Armed Forces have undertaken as part of the NATO-supported Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS), which provides participating NATO Allies with access to heavy transport aircraft. A previous shipment of medical supplies, with 190,000 masks and 180,000 protective suits, arrived in Poland on 9 April 2020.
The new supplies including 14 million masks, 300,000 protective suits and a machine to make masks were delivered by Antonov’s AN-124 cargo aircraft.
Ukrainian largest aircraft take part in NATO-supported Strategic Airlift International Solution, which provides NATO countries participating in the programme with access to heavy transport aircraft.
NATO member countries are pooling their resources to charter special aircraft that give the Alliance the capability to transport troops, equipment and supplies across the globe. Robust strategic airlift capabilities are vital to ensure that NATO countries are able to deploy their forces and equipment rapidly to wherever they are needed.
It is important to point out that Antonov is not doing this work due to a sense of solidarity or goodwill. On the contrary, Ukraine’s involvement in the SALIS program is on a commercial basis. However, this does not diminish its significance as an indication of Ukraine’s importance as a partner nation. Instead, this commercial partnership underlines the material benefits for Ukraine of closer ties with NATO and the EU at a time when the country is facing significant financial challenges.
Nine NATO Allies – Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – currently participate in the SALIS programme, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, a total of seven SALIS missions have been carried out to airlift urgent medical supplies.