RAAF accepts sixth C-17

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 2, 2012
A RAAF C-17 Globemaster banks away from RAAF Base Richmond. (Dept of Defence)

The Royal Australian Air Force has taken delivery of its sixth and final C-17 Globemaster transport in a ceremony at Boeing’s Long Beach, California factory on November 1.

The airflifter will join five already in service with 36 Squadron at RAAF Amberley.

“I am delighted to accept the sixth C-17 on behalf of the Royal Australian Air Force,” Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown said. “The C-17 is a capability that has improved Australia’s reach locally, regionally and globally. Individually, the aircraft is impressive – but as a fleet, it has fundamentally enhanced our strategic airlift agility to meet the Australian Defence Force Air Mobility requirements.”

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The decision to acquire a a sixth C-17 was confirmed in March this year, after it was first flagged by Defence Minister Stephen Smith at the delivery ceremony for the fifth C-17 at RAAF Amberley in September 2011. Boeing says the “contract was completed on June 6 and now Boeing has delivered the aircraft less than five months later, due to the strong cooperation among the Australian and US governments working with the Boeing team.”

Boeing has now delivered 248 C-17s worldwide, including 218 to the US Air Force.

17 Comments

  • Wayne

    says:

    Now we need #7 and #8 and the country has a truly efficient heavy airlift fleet.

  • Dane

    says:

    Agreed

  • Brett

    says:

    One of the best purchases made for the RAAF.

    A few more please before the production line is shut.

  • John N

    says:

    Guys, yes nos 7 & 8 would be great, but…

    It aint going to happen, with the way this current Government is so focused on putting the budget back into surplus and all the $’s that were cut out of Defence, where is the RAAF going to find a “spare” $500m+ for the aircraft, spares, further basing upgrades, etc, etc?

    The “Pie” doesn’t get any bigger, it just has to be sliced different ways for that to ever happen and that means “giving up” something else for that to ever happen, under the current budget allocation anyway.

    Sill, if you have a look at the composition of Air Lift Group (ALG), it’s looking pretty good.

    Roll forward a few years from now and it will be: 6 x C17A’s, 12 x C130J-30’s, 10 x C27J’s and of course dont forget the cargo and troop carrying capabilities of the 5 KC30A’s and maybe the King Air’s too, if a role can be justified for their continued use.

    All in all, not a bad result, a very very young fleet for ALG to use and operate for quiet a few years to come.

    I think the next major change will be in 10 or so years from now when the C130’s come up for replacement, maybe A400M’s or if Lockheed comes up with a Super Herc, who knows! Its still a long way out.

    Personally, if a “spare” half a Billion dollars was to be found, I’d rather see it invested in some more P8A’s, but thats just my opinion.

    Cheers,

    John

  • Dane

    says:

    I think with the way the ADF is being geared towards humanitarian work, another two could be justified. They can move huge amounts over long distances and are an amazing asset for Australia to have. Pity their airdrop capability is being under used.

  • John N

    says:

    Dane,

    I agree 100% that they are a very usefull military and humanitarian asset, but still, where does the money come from??

    Yes the ADF, and other countries defence forces, play a significant role in disaster recovery, humanitarian, etc, but at the end of the day equipment like a C17 is “primarily” a defence asset.

    I’m yet to see a Government come up with a bucket of “spare $’s” to purchase a defence asset that has multiple uses without defence having to forgo some other capability.

    If they could be purchased without defence having to fund it, well I’m all for it, but if it has to come out of the existing very stretched defence budget, well I’m against that.

  • Dane

    says:

    Sorry I got caught dreaming of the Howard era spending…

  • John N

    says:

    Dane,

    Yes Howard era defence spending, a very distant memory,

    unfortunately……

  • M

    says:

    218 for the US… whoa

  • TrashHauler

    says:

    The C17 is a great aeroplane when used to carry big loads, but too regularly it is only carrying C130 sized loads which for me is a waste of money for the tax payer. We don’t need more C17s, we need more C130Js as more assets provides more flexibility for smaller loads around the world. Oh, and scrap C27, it’s not a Caribou replacement and is far too expensive for what it does do. It costs almost as much as a C130J and still cannot land on soft Caribou style airstrips.

  • William

    says:

    From what I’ve seen, the Globemasters regularly carry loads in excess of what the C-130 can carry, be it too big or too heavy. Also, the C-17 is the only aircraft in Australia capable of lifting the M1A1 Abrams Tank. The C-27J’s $1.5 billion costs were for through life support, training and spares purchasing. The unit cost was around the $30-40 million dollar cost per unit. You’ll never get a direct replacement for the Caribou with the current demands for the Battlefield Airlifter due to the requirements of what it has to be able to lift.

  • Dan

    says:

    Wayne, exactly!, The C-17 has been a major success for the ADF and 2 more C-17s would be great.

  • Jason Simmons

    says:

    Additional C-17 would be very welcome and remain a possibility with the increasing focus on “humanitarian assistance” capabilities and a decreasing focus on combat capabilities.

    As we’ve seen with Growler acquisition recently, Government is not unwilling to spend money, however it usually comes with strings attached and other projects tend to suffer. Straight forward acquisitions are in favour at the moment and if a “capital acquisition” is demanded by Government to silence the “lack of capital investment” rumblings at present, extra C-17 aircraft would likely be a very attractive option.

  • John N

    says:

    Guys,

    I’m not wanting to continue to sound negative regarding the “idea” of having 2 additional C17’s, but again, where does the spare $500m+ come from???

    The Goverment cut a lot of $’s out of Defence, not just this year, but also in the forward estimates too.

    And again with its mad (some say stupid) rush to get back into surplus (with continuing falling revenues too) and the possibility of MORE cuts to come to balance the books, where do the $’s come from without robbing $’s from some other sorely needed defence capability?

    The reason that #5 was ordered (and subsequently a year later #6), wasn’t just the great job that the fleet did in the Qld Floods, NZ Earthquakes, Japan, supporting the troops in the Middle East, Afganistan, etc.

    It was also because the original 4 were going to start returning, one by one, to the US for their Heavy Maintenance periods, which as I understand, is approx 6mths per airframe.

    This would have meant that the RAAF would have been down to 3 airframes for a two year period!

    The Government was caught with its pants down regarding the Navy’s amphibious fleet, I’m sure the spin doctors in the Government didn’t want it to happen again regarding the C17’s too and have the fleet stretched beyond its limits.

    At the time that #5 arrived, the first of the original 4 went to the US for its heavy mainteance period, the fleet won’t be at full strengh of now 6 for about another 12 months when the last of the original 4 finish their heavy maintenance.

    Which brings us to about the end of next year, the pull out from Afganistan will be well on its way and the need for heavy lift to the Middle East should also reduce too and all 6 will be back in fleet service.

    I just can’t see, with what I’ve said above, and the state of the Defence Budget and the Budget generally how #’s 7 & 8 could be justified.

    Again, please don’t think I’m being negative, just realistic.

    Cheers,

    John

  • Jason Simmons

    says:

    John,

    Money for the extra C-17’s would come from the same place the money for the Growlers came from. Other projects which are being pared or stripped back…

    As well, not negative just realistic. Government can easily add a year onto a program here or there and find the $500m it would need for 2 more C-17’s.

    Not saying that’s a good idea, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility either.

  • Dee

    says:

    Sure, two more C-17’s would be nice, but another half dozen Chinooks would be a better deal for moving the 17’s payload to the action.

    Cheers,
    Dee.

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