C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft
The C-17 is one of the Air ForceÃs most important strategic transport aircraft, equipped with four Pratt & Whitney [UTX] F117-PW-100 turbofan engines. Average loads include provisions for 102 troops/paratroops; 36 litter and 54 ambulatory patients and attendants and a total 170,900 pounds of cargo within 18 pallet spaces.
The C-17 is capable of both inter-theater and intra-theater operations. The first airplane was delivered in 1993, and became fully operational two years later. The C-17Ãs ability to operate from short airfields has proven to be a critical asset in recent times. During Operation Allied Force in 1999 over Kosovo, the C-17 maintained a 96.4 percent launch reliability rate. C-17 was also used successfully in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) over Afghanistan. Transportation Command chief Air Force Gen. John Handy cited the OEF airlift as the third largest ever behind the Berlin Airlift and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, C-17 crews performed their first combat air drop of Army personnel when they delivered the 173rd Airborne Brigade in northern Iraq. Missions in support of the 173 rd have initially delivered by airdrop more than 1,000 men and pallets of equipment. Each C-17 carried about 100 paratroopers or support equipment. Active duty and reserve aircraft and crews from McChord AFB, Wash., and from Charleston AFB, S.C., have participated in the missions.
Presently, the only other foreign operator of the C-17 is Britain. The Royal Air Force is leasing four C-17s under a seven-year, $725 million contract, with two one-year options, to meet its short-term airlift needs.
On Aug. 15, the Air Force signed an agreement with Boeing to produce an additional 60 C-17s for $9.7 billion, extending the production run at the Long Beach, Calif. production site through 2008 and eventually delivering 180 airplanes. The Air Force has a stated requirement for 222 aircraft. In November Boeing delivered to the U.S. Air Force the 100th C-17 in a ceremony held at Long Beach. There are a variety of potential future customers under consideration ranging from the Japanese to the Australians. Both NATO and the European Union could buy C-17s and allow them to be used by member states.