Boeing has announced on 7 April 2014 that its long-standing C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter production line in Long Beach, California, will close in Summer 2015. That is three months or more earlier than initially envisaged.
The American manufacturer is still producing the C-17 as we speak, but orders are drying up. The Indian Air Force is yet to get five of its ten ordered C-17s, but eyes another six or seven aircraft. The Kuwaiti Air Force is expected to buy one C-17 of the aircraft Boeing still produces. Moreover, Boeing produces another seven or eight aircraft which the company thinks can sell. When the last of them will leave the plant, it is the end of the line for the aircraft developed during the later stages of the Cold War in the 20th Century.
The biggest C-17 user worldwide is the United States Air Force, flying 223 of the Globemasters, followed by India with the full delivery of ten aircraft expected before the end of 2014. The Royal Air Force bought 8 aircraft, followed by the United Arab Emirates Air Force (6) and the Royal Australian Air Force (6). Smaller C-17 users are the Royal Canadian Air Force (4), Qatar Emiri Air Force (4), NATO/EU Partners (3) and the Kuwait Air Force (1).
Earlier Sweden – one of the biggest users of the NATO/EU C-17s – was aiming to get one or two C-17s of its own to partly replacing the aging C-130s of the Flygvapnet. But with the current budget restrains and the focus Stockholm puts on the rebuilding of the more front-line defence assets the C-17 plan is off the table.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger with source information partly from Boeing