Finland to take part in joint acquisition of transport planes
( dpa ) - Finland on Tuesday said it would join a group of countries that plan to buy three giant US-made transport planes to improve their strategic airlift capability.
The decision to take part in the acquisition was made at a meeting with President Tarja Halonen and the cabinet committee on foreign and security policy, a government statement said.
Currently, 15 countries - mainly members of NATO but also neighbouring Sweden, that like Finland does not belong to the defence alliance - have expressed interest in the project.
The participating countries include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and the United States.
The statement said they were slated to sign a memorandum of understanding.
The Finnish decision noted the need for airlift capacity for emergency and relief efforts against the backdrop of events like the Asian tsunami disaster and the massive earthquake that impacted Pakistan in 2005.
The Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) project was launched in 2006 and the planes are of the type C-17 Globemaster III.