Leap of Faith

Boeing said April 11 it is increasing to 30 the number of C-17 transport aircraft that it will continue building for now using its own funds in the absence of new contracts from the Air Force or international customers. The company said it made the decision based on the belief that the Congress will support the purchase of more C-17s later this year, Reuters reported April 11. The Air Force’s has taken delivery of 171 of the 190 C-17s that it has on order. Although the aircraft is universally praised, USAF has said it cannot afford to buy more given priorities deemed more pressing like tanker recapitalization. But the service does request 15 additional C-17s in its Fiscal 2009 unfunded requirements list and at least one key lawmaker, Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.), chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, has promised to add funds later this year to buy more.