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Boeing delivers final C-17 to USAF

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 13, 2013
The last C-17 for the USAF lifts off from Long Beach. (Boeing)

Boeing has delivered the 223rd and last C-17 Globemaster III airlifter for the US Air Force, representing the completion of a contract signed more than 20 years ago.

The aircraft left Boeing’s Long Beach facility to fly to its base at Charleston, South Carolina, where a ceremony was held.

“Thank you for delivering to our nation combat airlift – that is the definition of the C-17 – the most versatile, most capable, most ready airlifter ever built,” said US Air Force Gen Paul Selva, commander, Air Mobility Command.

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While the USAF was the C-17’s main customer, Boeing continues to produce the aircraft for export, with to date 34 operated by Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and NATO.

First flown in 1991, the C-17 fleet has since exceeded 2.6 million flight hours.

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15 Comments

  • Ray E

    says:

    Is that the last one ever to be built or are there more international customers awaiting deliveries?

  • Red Barron

    says:

    Wow 223 units. Makes our 6 look like a sample load. However we sure get our money’s worth out of them.

  • Malster

    says:

    Ray, the line is still going with some export orders and Boeing is building some white tails in anticipation of getting orders. The line however will wind up in a year it two as there simply isn’t enough ongoing demand.

  • Dane

    says:

    Didn’t the USAF reduce their order for C-17s after the defense budget cuts?

  • Ray E

    says:

    Thanks for clearing that up Malster

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    Dane, no. The USAF only originally wanted 180 but the additional aircraft were forced on them by Congress after most of the C-5As were forcibly retired and as a pork-barrelling exercise to keep bases open.

    There are still nine Indian C-17s to be delivered, and Boeing has hopes of selling more into the Middle East.

  • Dane

    says:

    Thanks Andrew

  • Darren

    says:

    I wonder if there will be a need in the near future to augment the fleet with new C-17’s, or at the very least refurbish older airframes given the age and operational tempo they have been maintaining. Brilliant aircraft and they are worked hard.

  • John N

    says:

    Darren,

    In regard to refurbishment, just after the time the RAAF received its 5th C-17 in late 2011, the first of the original 4 went back to Boeing for a 6 month strip down and major overhaul, and as each of them completed the overhaul the next followed, I believe that all of the original 4 have gone through that process.

    I don’t know what that equates to in flight hours on the airframe, but it appears that approximately every 5 years or so they go through that 6mth major overhaul process.

    A couple more for the RAAF would be great, but at around $200m each (and not a lot of spare money in the Defence Budget) and also with the new Government planning to produce a new Defence White paper in around 18mths, it would be hard to see it happen.

    There are only 7 left to build of the current Indian order of 10 (3 have been delivered), but they do have options on another 6, so there is a possibility that a follow on Indian order could keep the line going a bit longer.

    On top of that Boeing said recently they are planning to build 10-12 white tails in anticipation of some new orders, that might mean the line stays open till late 2015, early 2016.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    It’s not just the cost of the airframes…it’s the RAAF’s capacity to crew, maintain, sustain and base them too.

    A simplistic snapshot shows that Amberley’s northern ramp is maxxed out already – it is impossible to have all six C-17s and five KC-30s on the ramp at the same time, plus all 11 aircraft are forced to share 33SQN’s hangar.

    And it’s not just a matter of extending the ramp, as substantial flood mitigation work need to be done after the 2011 floods which saw half the ramp and most of 33 and 36SQN’s car park flooded.

    Once the Afghan mission winds down I think the ADF will find the six C-17s, five KC-30s, 12 C-130Js and 10(+?) C-27Js, plus 7+ Ch-47F, 47 MRH90s etc will provide sufficient airlift to meet their needs.

  • adammudhen

    says:

    Andrew, is that “10(+?)” in relation to the C-27J just a guess on your part or are there thoughts of increasing the order?

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    There are “thoughts”, just no project or phase yet.

  • adammudhen

    says:

    Interesting, thanks AM.

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    And I should add, no money either…

  • adammudhen

    says:

    lol, yeah there’s always that

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