Thursday, July 23, 2009

We Got Airlift

It has been a good while since I posted anything about the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. It seems Boeing has been busy inking deals to keep the production line open in California until sometime in 2011. And judging by new reports, they may keep it open longer than that if they score some more sales.

Since the Airbus 400 has apparently gone the way of the Spruce Goose, NATO and Partnership for Peace countries have bought two C-17s to be based at the Pápa air base in Hungary. The US will supply a third C-17 to the NATO Heavy Airlift Wing. These planes will provide support to 12 NATO countries plus Sweden and Finland. These three planes will probably be working closely with the RAF and its six C-17s and what USAFE has based organically.

Last year Boeing inked a deal with Qatar to sell them some C-17s. The deal was for two airplanes. Not to be outdone, the United Arab Emirates has also bought the C-17, four of them to be exact along with 12 C-130J-30 Hercules turbo-props.

With the UAE order, there is a total of 22 foreign bought C-17s. The RAF, RCAF, and RAAF are already flying the plane with the RAF exceeding 50,000 hours in type. 23 foreign operated if you count the one the US is providing NATO to be based in Hungary. Next on Boeing's list of customers is the likes of India, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Japan. If more C-17s are not authorised by Congress and no more foreign sales occur, the last aircraft factory in California will shut down sometime in 2011 when the last C-17 rolls off the line.

News sources:
UAE orders C-17s and C-130Js
Boeing and Oman sign deal for C-17s
NATO receives three C-17s
RAF C-17s log 50,000 hours


Pat said...

So what is the status of the C-17B?

Anna said...

As far as I know, Boeing is still trying to sell it. Its going to be a hard sell since the C-130J can do the true short field combat delivery. It may take more missions to do it, but a C-130 was designed from its beginning to do the mission.

Right now there is one thing the USAF could contract Boeing to do that would help the C-17 fleet tremendously. Every C-17 from P-71 onward has center wing fuel tanks that add 10,000 gallons to the total fuel load and thus increases range. If Boeing build retrofit kits were to be fitted to these planes at depot, USAF strategic reach would be increased and AMC demand on the KC-135 fleet would drop. Reducing wear on the KC-135 fleet is pretty important right now as the USAF again battles Boeing, EADS, and Congress on the KC-X program.