Jones Says NATO Nearing C-17 Deal

Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and commander of US European Command, said Thursday that he’s on the verge of announcing big news for NATO’s strategic airlift capability. “We’re currently in a very exciting moment where we hope to sign up a number of nations to actually bring strategic airlift into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” Jones told reporters at the Pentagon. The minimum military requirement that the alliance has submitted is “eight C-17 type aircraft,” he noted, saying that alliance officials believe they will have secure commitments for money by November’s NATO summit meeting in Latvia. “Anything is better than zero, which is what we have now,” Jones said of the need for airlift. He is aware of Boeing’s announced intention to begin closing the C-17 line this month but hopes the company has the capability to produce a few more aircraft with the parts it has in hand. Jones said NATO could announce its decision by next month.