Gaining 10 “Attrition” C-17s:

Defense appropriators agreed late last week to buy an additional 10 new C-17 airlifters, adding $2.1 billion to the 2007 defense spending bill as part of the House-Senate conference agreement. This comes on top of the $2.2 billion the Administration requested for 2007 to purchase 12 C-17s. The additional 10 are considered “attrition” aircraft, replacements for C-17s that are being worn out by greater than anticipated usage rates. “The C-17 is the transport of choice, able to carry troops, vehicles, and supplies to any point on the globe, making its reliability and versatility unmatched,” declared Sen. James Talent (R-Mo.), one of the key lawmakers in the push to get the Pentagon to purchase more than the 180 aircraft cited by the Mobility Capabilities Study, which government and private defense analysts have ridiculed as being, at best, incomplete. These additional 10, plus one more approved in the 2006 emergency supplemental appropriations measure, will bring the total to 191 aircraft.