C-17 Globemaster III
Strategic Airlift Transport Aircraft
After receiving the last orders from the US, UK and
Australia, due for delivery in the next few years, Boeing is preparing
to shut down production by 2009. The company is pressing the
U.S. Government to commit to continued C-17 procurement to sustain
future production. As these commitments did not come, Boeing alerted
its suppliers to stop working on uncommitted airplanes.
According to the company, Boeing kept the production line "live"
for several years, anticipating further orders as it expected the
U.S. Government to update its mobility requirements after 9/11 and
the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In this period Boeing did receive
international orders and commitments for more than a dozen of the
advanced air lifters, enough to support production through 2009.
"The C-17 is one of the Defense Department's most successful
acquisition programs ever," said Ron Marcotte, vice president
and general manager of Boeing Global Mobility Systems. "No
one questions its operational value. But we can't continue carrying
the program without additional orders from the U.S. Government."
The stop-work orders affect long-lead items from suppliers that,
in many cases, are built 34 months before a C-17 is delivered. The
decision will ultimately affect the 5,500 Boeing jobs in California,
Missouri, Georgia, and Arizona, directly tied to the C-17, and the
program's nationwide supplier workforce that totals more than 25,000
people. Nearly 700 companies in 42 states provide parts and services
that go into each C-17.
The US Air Force reduced its C-17 Globemaster III procurement from
222 to 180. Britain has four and will get an additional aircraft.
Australia and Canada are buying four aircraft each. Three additional
aircraft are planned for procurement to compensate for attrition,
but these are not yet committed. The US Congress and Senate have
allocated funding to buy 42 additional aircraft, bringing the total
fleet to 222, as previously planned but the US. Air Force is not
pursuing the acquisition.
18, 2006 the Pentagon awarded a U.S. $2 billion contract to
Boeing, for 10 additional C-17s. According to Boeing, the recent
international C-17 orders and commitments, and the 10 new Air Force
order would keep Boeing's C-17 production line in Long Beach, California
running until late 2009. Boeing claims it needs 12 more orders in
2008 to keep its production lines alive after 2009.
NATO Plans Strategic Airlift Capability Based on
Following six months of negotiations, NATO released an official Letter
of Intent (LOI) endorsed by 13 NATO Allies, to launch contract
negotiations for the purchase of C-17 transport aircraft. NATO
Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) has begun negotiations with
Boeing. The SAC planes will be configured in the same way as the C-17s
flown by the US Air Force and the UK Royal Air Force The air crews will
be trained to the same basic standards, including air-to-air refueling
and night vision operations.
NATO is planning to establish a "Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC)”
based at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. The force will initially
comprised of 3 to 4 C-17s, flown by multinational aircrews (pilots and
loadmasters). Membership in the airlift fleet remains open to other
nations, and some additional nations are considering joining. A
multinational military structure will be created to command and control
the aircraft. The first C-17 is scheduled to be delivered by the middle
or end of 2007. Additional planes will be delivered every six months,
reaching an initial operating capability by 3rd Quarter, 2007 and full
operating capability in 2009. NATO is already operating the SALIS
(Strategic Airlift Interim Solution) arrangement, utilizing chartered