The C-17 Jobs Program

The Air Force is now on contract to buy 15 more C-17s, bringing the planned inventory up to 205 airplanes. That means the new “last day” of C-17 production, barring further USAF orders, will be in late 2010, according to Jean Chamberlin, Boeing’s vice president for mobility programs. The company continues to spend its own money to “preserve an option” for the Air Force to buy more, based on the stated wishes of Congress, Chamberlin said at a Boeing briefing Feb. 17 in Arlington, Va.. Joining the defense-stimulus bandwagon, she said the C-17 is a good jobs program, employing 30,000 people in 43 states, mostly clustered in California, Texas, Missouri, and Connecticut. It puts $8 billion into the national economy and employs 650 supplier companies. Continued USAF production is essential to keep the airplane attractive for export; 15 a year is the minimum economic quantity, Chamberlin noted. Countries that have expressed interest in buying the C-17, apart from those that have already acquired or ordered (Australia, Britain, Canada, Qatar, and a NATO consortium) include India, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.