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Boeing to cease C-17 production

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 19, 2013
A C-17 awaits completion at the Long Beach production facility. (Julian Green)

Just days after it delivered the last C-17 for the US Air Force, Boeing has announced the closure of its production line for the airlifter in 2015.

“Ending C-17 production was a very difficult but necessary decision,” said Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Boeing has blamed tightening global and US defence budgets for the decision. “Our customers around the world face very tough budget environments. While the desire for the C-17’s capabilities is high, budgets cannot support additional purchases in the timing required to keep the production line open,” Muilenburg added. “What’s more, here in the United States the sequestration situation has created significant planning difficulties for our customers and the entire aerospace industry.  Such uncertainty forces difficult decisions like this C-17 line closure. We will continue to make tough but necessary decisions to drive affordability and preserve our ability to invest for the future.”

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The 22 C-17s still on the production line will be completed before nearly 3,000 workers at the main Long Beach production facility and at other locations are made redundant. Thereafter Boeing will continue after-delivery support of the worldwide C-17 fleet as part of its integrated sustainment program.

Boeing has delivered 257 C-17s, including six to the RAAF.

16 Comments

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    What a shame – after a difficult start the C-17 has evolved into a game changing airlifter with no current match anywhere else. Might be good news for Airbus’s A400M hopes further down the track…

  • adammudhen

    says:

    I’m sure there’s a few within the RAAF that would love to get another pair while they can (even with Andrew’s earlier comments on Amberly and ALG), but with this decision, that’s not looking likely.

    Perhaps once the Coalition has had a chance to settle in, we may hear something, but I’m think the 6 we’ve got is all we’ll get. Having said that of course, those 6 are absolute beasts, so “only” six is a relative thing!

  • John N

    says:

    Actually when I first read the headline, here and elsewhere, I thought that it meant that production would cease as soon as the current orders were filled, eg, the 7 still to be delivered to India, and not proceed with building the ‘white tails’ that Boeing had recently talked about, but that’s not quiet the case.

    It appears that the 22 remaining airframes mentioned are broken down into 7 for India, 2 for an unnamed customer (be interesting to see who that is?) and the remaining 13 with no customer, eg, the white tails that Boeing had previously mentioned it intended to build.

    The situation is not much different to what has been known for a while, probably more about making an ‘official’ announcement that the production line is ending in 2015.

    With the issue of ensuring long lead items are available from component suppliers, an aircraft manufacturer can only hold out for so long before that shutdown process commences.

    Hopefully, if practical, the tooling and jigs for the C-17 can be kept in storage, eventually the replacement for the C-17 might just be an updated version of the C-17 in the years to come!!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Raymond

    says:

    Hmmm, wonder whether the RAAF will order another one or two before the line closes?

  • Raymond

    says:

    adammudhen –

    “Last week, the Long Beach plant delivered the last of 223 C-17s produced for the US Air Force. Nan Bouchard, Boeing vice-president and C-17 program manager, said the company will complete 22 final aircraft: seven for the Indian Air Force, two for an international customer that she declined to name, and 13 that have not yet been sold.”

    Maybe the RAAF could secure another one or two of these 13??

  • Brad Harrison

    says:

    Australian may have an opportunity in acquiring more C-17’s as the production line winds up. There is also the opportunity with the U.S Air Force suffering budgets pressures that we could purchase more (up to 4 additional C-17’s) at a bargain price. There has been comment in the past that has questioned the need of 220 plus of these aircraft in the USAF inventory and some criticism that the only reason so many C-17’s were purchased in the first place was jobs and members of congress shoring up their supporters. While some may believe that 10 C-17’s is a big ask for Australia, we live in a big country that utilises it’s defence forces for military, disaster and humanitarian missions far more than most countries. This amount of C-17’s with the support of the smaller transport aircraft (C130 and C27) will give far more flexibility to our air force and allow it to do the jobs we want it to do.

  • John N

    says:

    Brad,

    I can’t really see Boeing selling off these 13 White Tails for a ‘bargain’ price, that doesn’t make commercial sense.

    It’s not as though they have been stuck with unsold or cancelled orders, they are committing their own money to produce those 13 extra aircraft, and yes they don’t have firm orders for them, but I’d be surprised that they haven’t already done their homework and worked out who is ‘likely’ to buy them.

    In fact there might be a bit of competition knowing that if Governments don’t put their hands up soon, the opportunity will be gone.

    I wouldn’t be surprised that if India does exercise it 6 options, that they will probably come out of those 13 leaving 7 to go.

    As for the remainder, yes some could go to existing customers and other nations that have been reported as being interested.

    Of course I could be totally wrong, but I can’t imagine that Boeing is taking such a big gamble by putting up its own money on the off chance they will be sold.

    It will be interesting to see the activity in the next little while that might be generated now that Boeing has drawn a line in the sand!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Peter Bourke

    says:

    I think the un-named customer for 2 C-17s may be Kuwait.

  • Dane

    says:

    I think the RAAF has more chance of getting a squadron of A400s to plug the niche gap between C-130 and C-17 than getting more Globemasters. The A400 could deliver a payload too outsized for a Hercules but be more cost effective than using a C-17.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Dane,

    Do you really think that an air force the size of the RAAF could justify having C-27J’s, C-130J’s, A400M’s and C-17A’s in its airlift fleet?

    I believe that if the RAAF acquires the A400M, it will more likely be as a replacement for the C-130’s sometime in the future… and having an existing fleet of C-17’s makes it far more practical and economical to add to that fleet rather than a whole new extra type in service.

    I bet the RAAF is sitting down right now, seriously considering the merits of whether to pursue an additional one or two C-17’s before the line closes! It certainly wouldn’t surprise me, keeping in mind that both the air force and the Government have consistently sung the praises of the C-17’s and how valuable a capability they are.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Oh, and this doesn’t include the KC-30A’s and KA350’s which could also be considered airlift…

  • Ben

    says:

    Well keep up the wish list. RAAF has been spoilt in recent times.

    I think more of the budget needs to go to the RAN. There is a complete lack of thought of an air group for the LHD’s.

    And how about giving the Army more chinooks!

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    There should be a lack of thought about an air group for the LHDs. New Army Chinooks are on the way.

  • glen

    says:

    It would be great if the RNZAF bought or leased a couple of C17s far more useful than the 757s we have now. I bet the US air force have a few they don’t really need as the congress kept buying more C17s than the US air force needed or wanted . Or of course there are 13 unsold so maybe the RNZAF could get some at a really good price.

  • Peter Bourke

    says:

    The Alert 5 website says that India is to buy another 7 C-17s. If Algeria places an order for 6 in response to its recent evaluation of the Globemaster then all the whitetails are spoken for. In the longer term perhaps RAAF, RNZAF, RCAF etc can purchase refurbished C-17s surplus to USAF requirements.

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    The Alert5 link suggests those 7 Indian C-17s are the 7 (of the original order for 10) that haven’t been delivered yet…it takes a long time for an IAF requirement to be converted into a contract, so I doubt they’re new aircraft.

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Boeing to cease C-17 production

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 19, 2013
A C-17 awaits completion at the Long Beach production facility. (Julian Green)

Just days after it delivered the last C-17 for the US Air Force, Boeing has announced the closure of its production line for the airlifter in 2015.

“Ending C-17 production was a very difficult but necessary decision,” said Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Boeing has blamed tightening global and US defence budgets for the decision. “Our customers around the world face very tough budget environments. While the desire for the C-17’s capabilities is high, budgets cannot support additional purchases in the timing required to keep the production line open,” Muilenburg added. “What’s more, here in the United States the sequestration situation has created significant planning difficulties for our customers and the entire aerospace industry.  Such uncertainty forces difficult decisions like this C-17 line closure. We will continue to make tough but necessary decisions to drive affordability and preserve our ability to invest for the future.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

The 22 C-17s still on the production line will be completed before nearly 3,000 workers at the main Long Beach production facility and at other locations are made redundant. Thereafter Boeing will continue after-delivery support of the worldwide C-17 fleet as part of its integrated sustainment program.

Boeing has delivered 257 C-17s, including six to the RAAF.

16 Comments

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    What a shame – after a difficult start the C-17 has evolved into a game changing airlifter with no current match anywhere else. Might be good news for Airbus’s A400M hopes further down the track…

  • adammudhen

    says:

    I’m sure there’s a few within the RAAF that would love to get another pair while they can (even with Andrew’s earlier comments on Amberly and ALG), but with this decision, that’s not looking likely.

    Perhaps once the Coalition has had a chance to settle in, we may hear something, but I’m think the 6 we’ve got is all we’ll get. Having said that of course, those 6 are absolute beasts, so “only” six is a relative thing!

  • John N

    says:

    Actually when I first read the headline, here and elsewhere, I thought that it meant that production would cease as soon as the current orders were filled, eg, the 7 still to be delivered to India, and not proceed with building the ‘white tails’ that Boeing had recently talked about, but that’s not quiet the case.

    It appears that the 22 remaining airframes mentioned are broken down into 7 for India, 2 for an unnamed customer (be interesting to see who that is?) and the remaining 13 with no customer, eg, the white tails that Boeing had previously mentioned it intended to build.

    The situation is not much different to what has been known for a while, probably more about making an ‘official’ announcement that the production line is ending in 2015.

    With the issue of ensuring long lead items are available from component suppliers, an aircraft manufacturer can only hold out for so long before that shutdown process commences.

    Hopefully, if practical, the tooling and jigs for the C-17 can be kept in storage, eventually the replacement for the C-17 might just be an updated version of the C-17 in the years to come!!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Raymond

    says:

    Hmmm, wonder whether the RAAF will order another one or two before the line closes?

  • Raymond

    says:

    adammudhen –

    “Last week, the Long Beach plant delivered the last of 223 C-17s produced for the US Air Force. Nan Bouchard, Boeing vice-president and C-17 program manager, said the company will complete 22 final aircraft: seven for the Indian Air Force, two for an international customer that she declined to name, and 13 that have not yet been sold.”

    Maybe the RAAF could secure another one or two of these 13??

  • Brad Harrison

    says:

    Australian may have an opportunity in acquiring more C-17’s as the production line winds up. There is also the opportunity with the U.S Air Force suffering budgets pressures that we could purchase more (up to 4 additional C-17’s) at a bargain price. There has been comment in the past that has questioned the need of 220 plus of these aircraft in the USAF inventory and some criticism that the only reason so many C-17’s were purchased in the first place was jobs and members of congress shoring up their supporters. While some may believe that 10 C-17’s is a big ask for Australia, we live in a big country that utilises it’s defence forces for military, disaster and humanitarian missions far more than most countries. This amount of C-17’s with the support of the smaller transport aircraft (C130 and C27) will give far more flexibility to our air force and allow it to do the jobs we want it to do.

  • John N

    says:

    Brad,

    I can’t really see Boeing selling off these 13 White Tails for a ‘bargain’ price, that doesn’t make commercial sense.

    It’s not as though they have been stuck with unsold or cancelled orders, they are committing their own money to produce those 13 extra aircraft, and yes they don’t have firm orders for them, but I’d be surprised that they haven’t already done their homework and worked out who is ‘likely’ to buy them.

    In fact there might be a bit of competition knowing that if Governments don’t put their hands up soon, the opportunity will be gone.

    I wouldn’t be surprised that if India does exercise it 6 options, that they will probably come out of those 13 leaving 7 to go.

    As for the remainder, yes some could go to existing customers and other nations that have been reported as being interested.

    Of course I could be totally wrong, but I can’t imagine that Boeing is taking such a big gamble by putting up its own money on the off chance they will be sold.

    It will be interesting to see the activity in the next little while that might be generated now that Boeing has drawn a line in the sand!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Peter Bourke

    says:

    I think the un-named customer for 2 C-17s may be Kuwait.

  • Dane

    says:

    I think the RAAF has more chance of getting a squadron of A400s to plug the niche gap between C-130 and C-17 than getting more Globemasters. The A400 could deliver a payload too outsized for a Hercules but be more cost effective than using a C-17.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Dane,

    Do you really think that an air force the size of the RAAF could justify having C-27J’s, C-130J’s, A400M’s and C-17A’s in its airlift fleet?

    I believe that if the RAAF acquires the A400M, it will more likely be as a replacement for the C-130’s sometime in the future… and having an existing fleet of C-17’s makes it far more practical and economical to add to that fleet rather than a whole new extra type in service.

    I bet the RAAF is sitting down right now, seriously considering the merits of whether to pursue an additional one or two C-17’s before the line closes! It certainly wouldn’t surprise me, keeping in mind that both the air force and the Government have consistently sung the praises of the C-17’s and how valuable a capability they are.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Oh, and this doesn’t include the KC-30A’s and KA350’s which could also be considered airlift…

  • Ben

    says:

    Well keep up the wish list. RAAF has been spoilt in recent times.

    I think more of the budget needs to go to the RAN. There is a complete lack of thought of an air group for the LHD’s.

    And how about giving the Army more chinooks!

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    There should be a lack of thought about an air group for the LHDs. New Army Chinooks are on the way.

  • glen

    says:

    It would be great if the RNZAF bought or leased a couple of C17s far more useful than the 757s we have now. I bet the US air force have a few they don’t really need as the congress kept buying more C17s than the US air force needed or wanted . Or of course there are 13 unsold so maybe the RNZAF could get some at a really good price.

  • Peter Bourke

    says:

    The Alert 5 website says that India is to buy another 7 C-17s. If Algeria places an order for 6 in response to its recent evaluation of the Globemaster then all the whitetails are spoken for. In the longer term perhaps RAAF, RNZAF, RCAF etc can purchase refurbished C-17s surplus to USAF requirements.

  • Andrew McLaughlin

    says:

    The Alert5 link suggests those 7 Indian C-17s are the 7 (of the original order for 10) that haven’t been delivered yet…it takes a long time for an IAF requirement to be converted into a contract, so I doubt they’re new aircraft.

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