No More C-17s?:

We quoted the new head of Air Mobility Command, Gen. Duncan McNabb, in the Friday Daily Report, saying the military needs more C-17 and C-130 airlifters, as well as a light cargo theater aircraft. According to the Los Angeles Times, though, the Air Force has decided it can live with only 180 C-17s, the currently planned buy. The Times quotes Congressional Research Service defense analyst Christopher Bolkcom, who has read an unclassified version of the yet-to-be released Mobility Capabilities Study. Bolkcom says the Air Force has recommended capping the C-17 at 180. The obvious reason, of course, is the money crunch. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has yet to sign off on the MCS, but it would be a strange day indeed if he overruled an Air Force recommendation that would pare down big weapons systems. He told USAF to cancel the C-130J before he realized it would cost more to do that than to continue with the planned purchase. Now, he has high praise for the new Hercules.