End of the Line

The Air Force on June 19 ordered its 224th, and likely its final, C-17 transport from Boeing. The company received a $169.8 million contract to provide the new-build airlifter off of its production line in Long Beach, Calif., announced the Pentagon. Work on this airframe is expected to be completed in May 2013, according to the Defense Department’s release. Congress appropriated the funds for the Air Force to build a fleet of 223 C-17s. However, with the loss of a C-17 in a crash in Alaska in July 2010, lawmakers provided the money for the service to procure a replacement aircraft, the 224th, to keep the fleet size at 223. The Air Force leadership maintains that the service does not need any more C-17s beyond that. The Pentagon has just launched a nine-month mobility study to assess how well the US military’s transport enterprise supports the Obama Administration’s new defense strategy through 2018. Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said in March he thinks the Air Force’s proposed fleet of air mobility assets, including its C-17 force, is right-sized for the strategy.