Eighth and final RAAF C-17 delivered

The RAAF's eighth C-17A Globemaster arrives at RAAF Base Amberley.
A41-212 touches down at Amberley on Monday, under the command of 36SQN CO Wing Commander Steve Pesce. (Defence)

The RAAF officially welcomed its eighth and last Boeing C-17 Globemaster airlifter into service at RAAF Base Amberley on Wednesday.

The aircraft, A41-212, landed at Amberley on Monday, with the final delivery marked by a small ceremony at Amberley on Wednesday attended by Minister for Defence Materiel and Science Mal Brough, Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies and Syd Blocher, Boeing Defense, Space & Security’s vice president Australia business development. 

“With extraordinary lift and range, the C-17A Globemaster is an integral part of the Australian Defence Force’s airlift capability. It allows Australia to rapidly deploy troops, combat equipment, tanks, helicopters and humanitarian resources worldwide,” Minister Brough said. 

Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, The Hon Mal Brough addresses the gathering during the ceremony for the arrival of Globemaster A41-212 to the Air Force fleet.
Minister for Defence Materiel and Science Mal Brough.

“The C-17A Globemaster has played a central role in the ADF’s activities, including supporting the international effort to combat Daesh in Iraq and Syria, recovering the victims of the MH17 tragedy in the Ukraine, and delivering disaster relief to victims of the Vanuatu cyclone and Queensland floods.”

Australia’s acquisition of two additional C-17s, taking the fleet from six to eight, was confirmed in April in a $1 billion project comprising $700 million for the two aircraft plus sustainment, and a further $300 million for a new, dedicated C-17 maintenance hangar plus aircraft hardstand and taxiway upgrades at Amberley.

“The C-17A Globemaster is an incredibly versatile aircraft. It allows us to provide an air bridge from Australia with supplies to the men and women deployed around the world, support Army operations, and assist at home with disaster relief such as the Queensland floods,” Air Marshal Davies said.

“Additional aircraft mean we can better meet the demands of moving personnel and equipment, within the short timeframes required in emergency situations, such as floods and cyclones.”

Boeing has now shut down its Long Beach, California C-17 final assembly plant with work on the 279th and last C-17 completed earlier this year. The seventh and eighth Australian C-17s were acquired from a final batch of 10 Boeing built as ‘white tails’ – aircraft built without a customer.

Australia initially ordered four C-17s in 2006 which were delivered between December that year and January 2008. The fifth and sixth aircraft were delivered in 2011 and 2012.

Some images of RAAF C-17s in action:

An Australian Army Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicle is loaded onto a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17 Globemaster at RAAF Base Amberley for transport to RAAF Learmonth during Exercise Northern Shield 2015.

Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemasters at RAAF Base Learmonth during Exercise Northern Shield 2015.

DMO is responsible for acquiring and sustaining defence equipment. (Department of Defence)

Humanitarian aid from Australia for Vanuatu at Port Vila Airport. (Defence)

A RAAF C-17 arrives at Yokota Air Base carrying water cannon equipment, taxiing past the RAAF C-17 already based there, and a USAF C-17.


  1. random says

    Surprising that the final white-tail aircraft was procured at the same time, given that it represents the last opportunity for fleet expansion.

  2. G4george says

    They gave the folks in Brisbane’s cbd a scare this morning, doing low level flying, must have been a few spilt coffees.

  3. dejavu says

    I saw the C-17 with the white ribbon shooting through the Brisbane CBD this morning at about 250 feet. I first saw it coming at my window on the 6th floor office on Petrie Terrace as it lined up with the river. What an awesome sight.

  4. Raymond says

    Paul, they were off-the-shelf acquisitions and pretty much already built, as ‘white tails’ for potential buyers.

  5. says

    Now that Boeing has shut down its Long Beach, California C-17 final assembly plant this now leaves the market wide open to the fantastic capability offered by the new A400M Strategic Airlifter from Airbus.
    In my opinion the RAAF are unlikely to look at these until the C-130J needs replacing. However I would have thought the acquisition of 4-6 such aircraft by the RNZAF would be a distinct opportunity for Airbus.

  6. Derrick says

    Pity we missed out on 9 and 10. It would have been perfect to have a total of 10. 9 in service and 1 in deep maintenance just to keep the flight hours down.

  7. Red Barron says

    Buzzed over me in stones corner this morning flying the lowest I have ever seen anything in that area. The best thing I have seen since the last F111 passing out parade.

  8. Adrian P says

    No Vick, not a waste of money the C17 will be used for many years for a variety of combat and mercy missions..
    The F35 is a waste of money, far too sophisticated for the work carried out by the RAAF.

  9. mike9 says

    a versatile aircraft and bought the right way with no meddling by the air force with one off mods , in comparison to the dud F35 that still has not achieved its performance objectives , now that’s a waste of money !!

  10. Daryl says

    The c-17 is a great acquisition for the RAAF,it is indeed a shame that the purchase wasn’t bigger.Hard to believe that the first C-17’s in the USAF are already 20 years old.How time flies.

  11. Mick181 says

    Adrian why doesn’t the RAAF need the most sophisticated aircraft we can get. All you have to do to get a balanced reporting of the F-35A is reread the pages of this esteemed magazine and stop reading the BS that the newspapers and TV puts out.
    Yes the F-35 as had it’s problems but so did the F-111. The Russians & Chinese are very busy developing their own 5th gen jets, Aircraft like the F/A-18,Typhoon,Flanker will be obsolete by the 2030s. so our pilots will need the best they can get. All the other contenders will be 50+ yr old designs by then.
    Sorry Don but the RNZAF aren’t getting any C-17s.

  12. Adrian P says

    You do not need sophisticated aircraft to blow up a Toyoto Hilux.
    Look at the the operations Australia have been involved in over the last fifty years and name which opponents had a sophisticated aerial capability. Also which operations were a long term success?

  13. roger patrick says

    Don’t look now folks but the oldest RAAF C17 will be 9 years old next month.
    The C17 line was stopped because the USAF had stated several times that hey had more than enough C17’s in inventory already and didn’t want any more. until Aus and the UK started looking in mid 2000’s no other Airforce world-wide had even considered them – thought to be too expensive and large. The other nations orders of a few here and a few there were not enough the maintain the production line especially as the major customer had already said – no more!!
    As for the F35 comments, I agree that this aircraft is a forlorn waste of space – a classic example of how NOT to procure a new fighter. When it totally failed to meet it’s performance metrics they “re-baselined the project” which is manufacturer-speak for reducing all of the performance targets to what the aircraft can actually now reach, then crowing about how well the aircraft is now doing in meeting it’s development milestones. if the eastern-bloc countries can be all developing 5th gen fighters, why doe3s the entire western world rely on the US to produce 1 very flawed model, and then need 3500+ orders (before Canada recently saw the light and withdrew altogether) to pay for it!!

  14. roger patrick says

    Hello all,
    For my maths (learned in a state school in Queensland very near to Amberley), the 8th aircraft shown in this article A41-212 is not the right serial number.
    To recap:
    First 4 aircraft order on 2006
    Aircraft 5-6 in 2011
    Aircraft 7-8 in 2015
    A41-213 *****

    The aircraft in the photo is aircraft #7.

  15. Corey says

    Awesome to see the 8th C-17. Does anyone know who bought the last C-17 which didn’t have a buyer last I knew? If there is 1 last new C-17 why can’t we buy it and also why can’t the Government and RAAF buy some low hour and cycle C-17s from the USAF as they have had to stand down a squadron or two over the past couple of years due to budget restraints. A fleet of 12 or more would be nice and it would be nice to see the A400M in RAAF colours one day. I do agree with the other about the F-35 it is a dud so far as it needs avionics upgrades, new radar, new engine. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy Boeing Advanced Super Hornets which have stealth like the F-35 but it’s cheaper, can fly further with more thrust, it can dog flight and even with avionics, engines, air frame and weapons systems upgraded the Boeing Advanced Super Hornet would still be cheaper oh and it would cost less to train our pilots. The RAAF should either dump the F-35 or reduce the fleet to 36-48 air fames (3-4 Squadrons) but upgrade the engine to the GE Advent engine for additional thrust while reducing the fuel burn, reduce the airframe weight by using additive manufacturing for parts. Then buy a fleet of 144-156 Advanced Super Hornets (24 for trainers, 24-36 EA-18G Growlers, 24 replacement for the current 24 Super Hornet F leaving 72 aircraft to replace the classic hornets(A$13.622,55-14.84 Billion. Then buy an additional 11-17 KC-30A tankers for a total fleet of 18-24 to refuel all the RAAF aircraft (@ $2.2-3.4 billion @ A$200 million ea) Yes I know I have too much time on my hands but I can do the approx cost fro the 72-100 F-35As if you would like 🙂 It could be funded with current funding by increasing the ADF budget by $3 billion for the next 5 years to fund the new Advanced Super Hornets and additional KC-30s 🙂

  16. roger patrick says

    Well said. Unfortunately, the US Congress cancelled all funding for the GE Alternate engine for the F35 on the excuse of cost saving for the program!! The minute that happened PW stopped any further development work on the existing engine – they are sitting pretty, now mandatory fixes to repair obvious problems only, as the threat of the alternate engine has gone for good.

  17. roger patrick says

    8th aircraft. Google “RAAF C17 Serial Numbers”- see photo of A41-213 from autralianaviation.com.au dated 31 May 2015 of 8th aircraft at Longbeach on 22 May 2015……I rest my case.

  18. Jason says

    I would be interested in how you can support your claims that the Advanced Super Hornet which is yet to fly in prototype form has “stealth like the F-35”, is “cheaper”, and can fly “further”. Also, who says the F-35 needs a “new radar” and a “new engine”?

  19. Mick181 says

    The fact is, only the mainstream media continually attack the F-35, these reports tend to be written by non specialist reporters who don’t have a clue about military equipment.
    The specialist military and aviation media(such as AA), who employ writers who are specialist’s in the field are far less likely to be found attacking the JSF, because these people understand the capabilities that the F-35 will bring. Cant dogfight, so what! modern AAms have a top speed of mach 4, can pull 40gs, and can be fired at any angle from the parent aircraft using the radar of his wingman or an AWACS.
    The greatest advantage the F-35 will bring is Situation Awarness! and that has always been the most important advantage you can have in battle.
    Get your heads out of the sand and read sites like Australian Aviation.

  20. Adrain P says

    Ok are we buying all this equipment to fight the cold war of the 1950s anfd 60s or are we buying equipment to protect our trade routes with are major trading partner (China)?

  21. Gary says


    Whilst A41-212 is indeed the seventh aircraft for the RAAF, it is the eighth delivered as A41-213 was delivered before 212.

  22. Gary says


    Aircraft had LAIRCM fitted before delivery. 213 will have that done later when equipment is available.

  23. Corey says

    The GE ADVENT engine is whole new engine designed to be used in future fighters and as a kinda secret F-35 back up engine as it’s the right size. That is partly why P&W refuses to release the cost of their engines to the public over fears GE could/would beat them on price for a better product.The Boeing Advanced Super Hornet has been flown as a prototype which was funded by Boeing and GE. It has improved engines providing additional thrust over 26,000lbs from 22,000lbs, it has conformal fuel tanks with 0 drag and adds by memory 280+nm to the aircraft’s range, it has a weapons pod where the centre drop fuel tank would go and can add a number of weapons for example 4 x AM-120s or 2 x AM-120s 4 small diameter bombs, internal IRST pod. Also there have been some small modifications to the aircraft fuselage to make it over 50% more stealthy than the current Super Hornet along with using a new radar absorbing material which is used on the F-35. For the time being Australia should have a small fleet of Advanced Super Hornets of at least 48 aircraft to cover the gap the F-35s will give us. Also Canada is now pulling out of the F-35 programs and will now hold a competition with the Boeing Advanced Super Hornets, SAAB Gripen, Dassault Rafale or Eurofighter Typhoon. The top 3 are Boeing, Dassault and Eurofighter as they are all twin engine but on the top id Boeing as it would cost RCAF less to convert all their pilots and ground crew as there are some similarities with the cf-18 Hornet.

  24. Jason says

    The only part of the Advanced Super Hornet that has ‘flown’ is the conformal fuel tanks, everything else exists on paper or in static display fiberglass mockup form only.

    The Advent engine exists on paper only.

  25. rogerp says

    the “conformal fuel tanks” were only dummy shells to test the aerodynamics of the aircraft with them fitted. Without an actual customer, Boeing would have to fund all of the further development/certification costs themselves – not going to happen unless someone takes the plunge to buy!
    The simple act of removing the externally mounted weapons/under-wing mounting rails reduces the Hornet RCS dramatically.
    While it won’t equal the F35 stealth totally the ASH improvements would come close and give a much lower risk aircraft at lower cost.

  26. Mick181 says

    Roger after you pay for all that development for what would be a fairly small run, i don’t think it would be very cheap at all. A Super Hornet now costs in the vicinity of $60m a copy compared to about $95m for the F-35A.

  27. Jason says

    A $60m Super Hornet doesn’t come with a targeting pod, EW/RWR, external tanks etc, so you can add $10m per jet right there.

    These items are built in to the $90m F-35.

    Add on the Advanced Super Hornet enhancements such as conformal tanks, EOTS/IRST, weapons pod, advanced cockpit, additional LO treatments etc (all of which are also built in to the $90m F-35), as well as the flight test, integration and other development NREs, and you easily have a >$100m airplane.

  28. Corey says

    A Boeing Advanced Super Hornet costs A$90.3 Million about $66 million US and that’s with the whole advanced package. Now about the external tanks well the RAAF already have them for the current Super Hornets and Classic hornets so the so called cost there would be drastically reduced as there would only be a minimal need to buy additional external fuel tanks as the RAAF would only have to buy approximately 100-150 tanks additional external fuel tanks for a fleet of 156 Advanced Super Hornets and Growlers. The F-35 doesn’t even have external fuel tanks plus other additional weapons technology which would increase the cost of the already $105 million F-35A in US dollars to the F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet and Growler is a much cheaper option and becomes even more cheaper when you add in the training costs for the pilots and ground crews as it would be like 10+ hours pilot conversion course and minimal training for the ground support staff. The F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet is twin engine the F-35 isn’t which was proven that twin engine fighter jets are better in every way when a US marine classic hornet engine failed while conducting a bombing mission it was able to fly back safely to base with the help of a RAAF KC-30A tanker which provided a critical air to air refuel other wise the pilot would of had to make an emergency landing in hostile terrorist or eject for the aircraft. The F-35 engine has proven time and time again it’s unreliable and under powered. For the time being for the next 20+ years the Boeing Advanced Super Hornet is the best fighter jet for Australia injunction with a small fleet of 36-48 F-35s where needed with major upgrades as the F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet would be able to carry out the needs of the RAAF at a much cheaper cost. I’d rather the Government spend A$20 billion to have a fleet of 156 Advanced Super Hornets and Advanced Growlers including additional external fuel tanks, weapon systems, new next generation helmet, upgrades to air bases and training than the $31 billion just for the F-35s alone and that’s for a fleet of 145 aircraft. The F-35 as it stands to day and a pile of junk and until it gets new more powerful, fuel efficient engine, new avionics, upgraded radar along with external fuel tanks oh and a massive weight reduction along with a probe and drogue refuelling system for the AUS aircraft and can fly into storms with lightning the F-35 shouldn’t be looked at and Canada is a prime example of having a brine because it’s cancelling the F-35

  29. Mick181 says

    I sat down and tried to put together an answer, then decided it just not worth the effort. $31b for 145 F-35s, $90m for an aircraft that doesn’t exist. Corey where are you getting these numbers from. The f-35s avionics are obsolete?. Corey your shopping lists would need Australia to increase defence spending t0 at least 6-7% and introduce conscription to man the ADF. Not going to happen short of ww3 starting.

  30. rogerp says

    The F35 PW engine was chosen over it’s GE rival as at the time of the decision the PW engine was considered to be more mature, lower risk and further along it’s development path than the GE engine, which was noted as having a much higher growth potential than the PW engine but was considered also much higher risk as it was much less mature in it’s development.
    Who knows what capabilities the F35 will have at maturity – the software it is being supplied with currently can’t even operate all of the intended weapons, or the sensor suite.
    The US have admitted in it’s current iteration, the much vaunted situational awareness is deficient to the point of having to operate the aircraft in pairs.
    I do hope it eventually gets to a reasonable operational state, but I suspect it will be some time yet.
    On Corey’s numbers for the Advanced Super Hornet, Boeing did provide estimated costs for most of the ASH components in an interview with Australian Aviation a while back.

  31. Ric Lasslett says

    F.35 might be an overkill for the current Toyota Hilux but do we know what new anti aircraft developments Toyota are building into the next gen, block two Landruiser Terrorista models? Be prepared and a step ahead!