Boeing C-17 Globemaster III: Aircraft profile

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Mission

The C-17 Globemaster III is the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force.

C-17 Globemaster III: C-17 Globemaster IIIs participate in a four-ship, airdrop training mission Aug. 13 over the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The C-17s are assigned to the from the 535th Airlift Squadron from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.C-17 Globemaster III: C-17 Globemaster IIIs participate in a four-ship, airdrop training mission Aug. 13 over the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The C-17s are assigned to the from the 535th Airlift Squadron from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area. The aircraft can perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions and can also transport litters and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations when required.

The inherent flexibility and performance of the C-17 force improve the ability of the total airlift system to fulfill the worldwide air mobility requirements of the United States.

The ultimate measure of airlift effectiveness is the ability to rapidly project and sustain an effective combat force close to a potential battle area. Threats to U.S. interests have changed in recent years, and the size and weight of U.S.-mechanized firepower and equipment have grown in response to improved capabilities of potential adversaries. This trend has significantly increased air mobility requirements, particularly in the area of large or heavy outsize cargo. As a result, newer and more flexible airlift aircraft are needed to meet potential armed contingencies, peacekeeping or humanitarian missions worldwide. The C-17 is capable of meeting today's demanding airlift missions.

C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III from Dover Air Force Base, Del., teamed up with Air Force and Navy fighters in a joint training operation June 29 at Naval Air Station Key West, Fla. The transport moved cargo in support of the exercise.C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III from Dover Air Force Base, Del., teamed up with Air Force and Navy fighters in a joint training operation June 29 at Naval Air Station Key West, Fla. The transport moved cargo in support of the exercise.

Features

Reliability and maintainability are two outstanding benefits of the C-17 system. Current operational requirements impose demanding reliability and maintainability. These requirements include an aircraft mission completion success probability rate of 92 percent, only 20 aircraft maintenance man-hours per flying hour, and full and partial mission availability rates of 74.7 and 82.5 percent, respectively. The Boeing warranty assures these figures will be met.

C-17 Globemaster III from the 446th Airlift Wing, McChord, Air Force Base, Wash.: A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 446th Airlift Wing, McChord, Air Force Base, Wash., lands on a newly established runway after conducting a daytime airdrop mission at Schoonover Field at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif, July 13, 2008, in support of Exercise Hydra 2008. An annual joint exercise held at more than 3 locations in northern California, Hydra demonstrates joint coordination of bare-base setup, runway development, cargo and personnel airdrop proficiency, and other critical airlift capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John D. Herrick)C-17 Globemaster III from the 446th Airlift Wing, McChord, Air Force Base, Wash.: A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 446th Airlift Wing, McChord, Air Force Base, Wash., lands on a newly established runway after conducting a daytime airdrop mission at Schoonover Field at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif, July 13, 2008, in support of Exercise Hydra 2008. An annual joint exercise held at more than 3 locations in northern California, Hydra demonstrates joint coordination of bare-base setup, runway development, cargo and personnel airdrop proficiency, and other critical airlift capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John D. Herrick)

The C-17 measures 174 feet long (53 meters) with a wingspan of 169 feet, 10 inches (51.75 meters). The aircraft is powered by four, fully reversible, Federal Aviation Administration-certified F117-PW-100 engines (the military designation for the commercial Pratt & Whitney PW2040), currently used on the Boeing 757. Each engine is rated at 40,440 pounds of thrust. The thrust reversers direct the flow of air upward and forward to avoid ingestion of dust and debris. Maximum use has been made of off-the-shelf and commercial equipment, including Air Force-standardized avionics.

The aircraft is operated by a crew of three (pilot, copilot and loadmaster), reducing manpower requirements, risk exposure and long-term operating costs. Cargo is loaded onto the C-17 through a large aft door that accommodates military vehicles and palletized cargo. The C-17 can carry virtually all of the Army's air-transportable equipment.

C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III takes off from a base in Southwest Asia. Coalition C-17s and C-130s flew 150 sorties and delivered 610 tons of cargo Sept. 6. The equivalent weight delivered is more than the weight of 32 F-16s. (U.S. Air Force photo)C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III takes off from a base in Southwest Asia. Coalition C-17s and C-130s flew 150 sorties and delivered 610 tons of cargo Sept. 6. The equivalent weight delivered is more than the weight of 32 F-16s. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Maximum payload capacity of the C-17 is 170,900 pounds (77,519 kilograms), and its maximum gross takeoff weight is 585,000 pounds (265,352 kilograms). With a payload of 169,000 pounds (76,657 kilograms) and an initial cruise altitude of 28,000 feet (8,534 meters), the C-17 has an unrefueled range of approximately 2,400 nautical miles. Its cruise speed is approximately 450 knots (.76 Mach). The C-17 is designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and equipment.

The design of the aircraft allows it to operate through small, austere airfields. The C-17 can take off and land on runways as short as 3,500 feet (1,064 meters) and only 90 feet wide (27.4 meters). Even on such narrow runways, the C-17 can turn around using a three-point star turn and its backing capability.

Background

The C-17 made its maiden flight on Sept. 15, 1991, and the first production model was delivered to Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., June 14, 1993. The first squadron of C-17s, the 17th Airlift Squadron, was declared operationally ready Jan. 17, 1995. The Air Force originally programmed to buy a total of 120 C-17s, with the last one being delivered in November 2004. Current budget plans involve purchasing 190 aircraft.

The original 120 C-17s were based at Charleston AFB; McChord AFB, Wash., (first aircraft arrived in July 1999); Altus AFB, Okla.; and at an Air National Guard unit in Jackson, Miss. In August 2005, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., began basing the first of eight aircraft. In February 2006, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, received its first C-17.

The C-17 is operated by the Air Mobility Command at the 60th Airlift Wing and the 349th Air Mobility Wing (Associate Reserve) at Travis AFB, Calif.; 62nd Airlift Wing and 446th Airlift Wing (Associate Reserve) at McChord AFB, Wash.; 437th Airlift Wing and 315th Airlift Wing (Associate Reserve) at Charleston AFB, S.C.; the 305th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire AFB, N.J.; and the 172nd Airlift Wing, Mississippi ANG. Additionally, Air Force Materiel Command operates two C-17s at Edwards AFB, Calif., and Pacific Air Forces operates eight aircraft each at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska and Hickam AFB, Hawaii (Associate Guard). The Air Force Reserve Command operates eight aircraft at March Air Reserve Base, Calif; and Air Education and Training Command has 12 aircraft at Altus AFB, Okla.

General Characteristics

Primary Function: Cargo and troop transport
Prime Contractor: Boeing Company
Power Plant: Four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines
Thrust: 40,440 pounds, each engine
Wingspan: 169 feet 10 inches (to winglet tips) (51.75 meters)
Length: 174 feet (53 meters)
Height: 55 feet 1 inch (16.79 meters)
Cargo Compartment: length, 88 feet (26.82 meters); width, 18 feet (5.48 meters); height, 12 feet 4 inches (3.76 meters)
Speed: 450 knots at 28,000 feet (8,534 meters) (Mach .76)
Service Ceiling: 45,000 feet at cruising speed (13,716 meters)
Range: Global with in-flight refueling
Crew: Three (two pilots and one loadmaster)
Aeromedical Evacuation Crew: A basic crew of five (two flight nurses and three medical technicians) is added for aeromedical evacuation missions. Medical crew may be altered as required by the needs of patients
Maximum Peacetime Takeoff Weight: 585,000 pounds (265,352 kilograms)
Load: 102 troops/paratroops; 36 litter and 54 ambulatory patients and attendants; 170,900 pounds (77,519 kilograms) of cargo (18 pallet positions)
Unit Cost: Unit Cost: $202.3 million (fiscal 1998 constant dollars)
Date Deployed: June 1993
Inventory: Active duty, 158; Air National Guard, 8; Air Force Reserve, 8

Source: USAF

Detailed background:

Source: wikipedia.org

The Boeing (formerly McDonnell Douglas) C-17 Globemaster III is a large American airlifter manufactured by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, and operated by the United States Air Force, British Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Canadian Forces. NATO and Qatar will also acquire the airlifter.

The C-17 Globemaster III is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area. It is also capable of performing tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop missions. The C-17 takes its name from two previous United States cargo aircraft, the C-74 Globemaster and the C-124 Globemaster II.

C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III banks after conducting airdrops Aug. 20 over the Chugach Mountain Range in Alaska. The C-17 is assigned to the 517th Airlift Squardon from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown)C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III banks after conducting airdrops Aug. 20 over the Chugach Mountain Range in Alaska. The C-17 is assigned to the 517th Airlift Squardon from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown)

Development

Background

In the 1970s, the US Air Force began looking for a replacement for the C-130 Hercules tactical airlifter. The Advanced Medium STOL Transport (AMST) competition was held, with Boeing proposing the YC-14, and McDonnell Douglas proposing the YC-15. Despite both entrants exceeding specified requirements, the AMST competition was canceled before a winner had been selected.

By the early 1980s, the USAF found itself with a large fleet of aging C-141 Starlifter cargo aircraft. Some of the C-141s had major structural problems due to heavy use. Compounding matters, USAF historically never possessed sufficient strategic airlift capabilities to fulfill its airlift requirements. In response, McDonnell Douglas elected to develop a new aircraft using the YC-15 as the basis. McDonnell Douglas was awarded a contract to build its proposed aircraft, by then designated the C-17A Globemaster III, on August 28, 1981. The new aircraft differed in having swept wings, increased size, and more powerful engines. This would allow it to perform all work performed by the C-141, but to also fulfill some of the duties of the C-5 Galaxy, freeing the C-5 fleet for larger outsize cargo.

Design phase

Development continued until December 1985 when a full-scale production contract was signed for 210 aircraft. Development problems and limited funding caused delays in the late 1980s. Questions were also raised about more cost-effective alternatives during this time. In April 1990, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney reduced the order from 210 to 120 aircraft. The C-17's maiden flight was on September 15, 1991 from the McDonnell Douglas west coast plant in Long Beach, California, about a year behind schedule. This aircraft (T-1) and five more production models (P1-P5) participated in extensive flight testing and evaluation at Edwards AFB. In late 1993, the DoD gave the contractor two years to solve production and cost overrun problems or face termination of the contract after the delivery of the fortieth aircraft. By accepting the 1993 terms, McDonnell Douglas incurred a loss of nearly US$1.5 billion on the development phase of the program.

In April 1994, the C-17 program was still experiencing cost overruns, and did not meet weight, fuel burn, payload and range specifications. Airflow issues caused problems with parachutes and there were various other technical problems with mission software, landing gear, etc. A July 1994 GAO document revealed that to justify investing in the C-17 rather than in the C-5, Air Force and DoD studies from 1986 and 1991 had claimed that the C-17 could use 6,400 more runways (outside the US) than the C-5. It was later discovered that this study had only considered the runway dimensions, but not their strength or Load Classification Numbers (LCN). The C-5 has a lower LCN than the C-17, although the US Air Force places both in the same broad Load Classification Group (LCG). When considering runway dimensions and their load ratings, the C-17's worldwide runway advantage over the C-5 shrank from 6,400 to 911 airfields. However, the C-17's ability to use lower quality, austere airfields was not considered.

A January 1995 GAO report revealed that while the original C-17 budget was US$41.8 billion for 210 aircraft, the 120 aircraft already ordered at that point had already cost US$39.5 billion. In March 1994, the U.S. Army had decided it no longer needed the 60,000 lb (27,000 kg) Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES) delivery that the C-17 was supposed to provide, feeling that the 42,000 lb (19,000 kg) capability of the C-130 Hercules was sufficient. It was decided not to conduct C-17 LAPES training beyond the testing of a 42,000 lb (19,000 kg) LAPES delivery. There were still airflow problems making it impossible for the C-17 to meet its original airdrop requirements. A February 1997 GAO Report revealed that a C-17 with a full payload could not land on 3,000 feet (900 m) wet runways, for simulations suggested 5,000 ft (1,500 m) was required.

By the mid-1990s, most of the problems had been resolved. The first C-17 squadron was declared operational by the U.S. Air Force in January 1995. In 1996, DoD ordered another 80 aircraft for a total of 120. In 1997 McDonnell Douglas merged with its former competitor, Boeing. In 1998, the order was increased to 134 units and in August 2002 to 180.

Recent developments

In July 2006, C-17 production was planned to end in 2009 unless Boeing received additional orders in time to allow the production pipeline to remain in operation. At the time a large follow-on order would allow Boeing to begin C-17B production in 2010. The proposed C-17B would be capable of landing on sandy beaches and other areas off-limits to the C-17A.

On August 18, 2006 Boeing announced it was telling suppliers to stop work on parts for uncommitted C-17s. This move is the first step in shutting down production if no new plane orders were received from the US Government. However, just one month later on September 21, a House and Senate conference committee approved a US$447 billion defense bill for 2007, that includes US$2.1 billion for 10 additional C-17s. The additional purchase follows intense lobbying by Boeing, as well as by California state leaders (where the plane is manufactured), and Missouri leaders, where Boeing's defense business is based. However, this extends the life of the program for only one additional year, to 2010.

On March 2, 2007, Boeing announced the C-17 production line may end in mid-2009 due to the lack of additional US government and international orders.

A total of 190 C-17s are contracted for delivery to the USAF as of October 2007. Boeing has purchased parts for 30 new C-17s at its own expense in hopes that Congress will approve the funds requested. Fifteen C-17s are earmarked in a FY2008 War Supplemental that passed the House on 10 June 2008 and the Senate on June 27, 2008. President Bush has signed the measure into law. Production has been extended from August 2009 to August 2010 and the total number of C-17s on contract will be 205, once a contract is awarded. Furthermore, efforts are underway to add a further 15 C-17s to the FY2009 Defense procurement bill so that production may be extended from August 2010 to August 2011. This will afford a window of opportunity for export purchases to take effect.

Design

In recent years the size and weight of U.S. mechanized firepower and equipment have grown, which has significantly increased air mobility requirements, particularly in the area of large or heavy outsize cargo. The C-17 can airlift such cargo fairly close to a potential battle area.

The C-17 is powered by four fully reversible, F117-PW-100 turbofan engines (the Department of Defense designation for the commercial Pratt and Whitney PW2040, currently used on the Boeing 757). Each engine is rated at 40,400 lbf (180 kN) of thrust. The thrust reversers direct the flow of air upward and forward. This reduces the probability of foreign object damage and provides reverse thrust capable of backing the aircraft. Additionally, the C-17's thrust reversers can be used in flight at idle-reverse for added drag in maximum-rate descents.

The aircraft requires a crew of three (pilot, copilot, and loadmaster) for cargo operations. Cargo is loaded through a large aft door that accommodates both rolling stock (trucks, armored vehicles, trailers, etc.) and palletized cargo. The cargo floor has rollers (used for palletized cargo) that can be flipped to provide a flat floor suitable for rolling stock. One of the larger pieces of rolling stock that this aircraft can carry is the 70-ton M1 Abrams tank.

Maximum payload capacity of the C-17 is 170,900 lb (77,500 kg), and its maximum gross takeoff weight is 585,000 lb (265,350 kg). With a payload of 160,000 lb (72,600 kg) and an initial cruise altitude of 28,000 ft (8,500 m), the C-17 has an unrefueled range of approximately 2,400 nautical miles (4,400 km) on the first 71 units, and 2,800 nautical miles (5,200 km) on all subsequent units -- which are extended-range models using the sealed center wing bay as a fuel tank. These units are informally referred to by Boeing as the C-17 ER. The C-17 cruise speed is approximately 450 knots (833 km/h) (0.76 Mach). The C-17 is designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and their equipment.

The C-17 is designed to operate from runways as short as 3,500 ft (1,064 m) and as narrow as 90 ft (27 m). In addition, the C-17 can operate out of unpaved, unimproved runways (although there is the increased probability of damage to the aircraft). The thrust reversers can be used to back the aircraft and reverse direction on narrow taxiways using a three-point (or in some cases, multi-point) turn maneuver.

Operational history

United States Air Force

The first production model was delivered to Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina on July 14, 1993. The first squadron of C-17s, the 17th Airlift Squadron, was declared operationally ready on January 17, 1995. The C-17 has broken 22 records for oversized payloads. The C-17 was awarded US aviation's most prestigious award, the Collier Trophy in 1994.

The Air Force originally programmed to buy a total of 120 C-17s, with the last one being scheduled for delivery in November 2004. The fiscal 2000 budget funded another 14 aircraft, primarily for Air Mobility Command support of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). Basing of the original 120 C-17s was with the 437th Airlift Wing and 315th Airlift Wing at Charleston AFB, South Carolina, the 62nd Airlift Wing and 446th Airlift Wing at McChord Air Force Base, Washington (first aircraft arrived in July 1999), the Air Education and Training Command's (AETC) 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus AFB, Oklahoma, and the Air Mobility Command-gained 172d Airlift Wing of the Mississippi Air National Guard at Jackson-Evers International Airport/ANGB, Mississippi.

Basing of the additional 13 aircraft went to McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and Travis Air Force Base, California. An additional 60 units were ordered in May 2002.

In FY 2006, eight C-17s were delivered to March ARB, California. Although operationally-gained by the Air Mobility Command, these C-17s are the only aircraft strictly under direct control of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC).

In 2007, Congress appropriated funds for 10 additional USAF C-17s, bringing the total planned fleet size (on order + delivered) to 190. Additional aircraft were subsequently assigned to Dover AFB, Delaware.

The C-17 was used to deliver military goods and humanitarian aid during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. On March 26, 2003, fifteen USAF C-17s participated in the biggest combat airdrop since the United States invasion of Panama in December, 1989: the night-time airdrop of 1,000 paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade occurred over Bashur, Iraq. It opened the northern front to combat operations and constituted the largest formation airdrop carried out by the United States since World War II.

USAF C-17s have also been used to assist US Allies transport military equipment. This has included the transportation of Canadian armored vehicles to Afghanistan in 2003 and the redeployment of Australian forces in Australia and the Solomon Islands during the Australian-led military deployment to East Timor in 2006. In late September and early November 2006, USAF C-17s flew 15 Canadian Forces Leopard C2 tanks from Kyrgyzstan into Kandahar AF in support of the Afghanistan NATO mission.

There has been debate regarding follow-on orders for the C-17, with the Air Force requesting line shutdown, and members of Congress attempting to reinstate production. Furthermore, in FY2007, the Air Force requested $1.6 billion to deal with what it termed "excessive combat use" on operational airframes.

However, in testimony before a House of Representatives subcommittee on air and land forces, General Arthur Lichte, USAF, the commander of Air Mobility Command indicated extending production to another 15 aircraft, bringing the total to 205. Pending on the delivery of the results of two studies in 2009, Lichte opines that the Air Force may eventually have to keep the production line open for purchase of even more C-17s to satisfy airlift requirements. Royal Air Force

Boeing has actively marketed the C-17 to many European nations including Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Of these, the UK was always seen as the most likely customer given its increasingly expeditionary military strategy and global commitments. The Royal Air Force has established an aim of having interoperability and some weapons and capabilities commonality with the United States Air Force. The UK's 1998 Strategic Defence Review identified a requirement for a strategic airlifter. The Short-Term Strategic Airlift (STSA) competition commenced in September of that year, however tendering was canceled in August 1999 with some bids identified by ministers as too expensive (including the Boeing/BAe C-17 bid) and others unsuitable. The project continued, with the C-17 seen as the favorite. The UK Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, announced in May 2000 that the RAF would lease four C-17s at an annual cost of £100 million from Boeing for an initial seven years with an optional two year extension. At this point the RAF would have the option to buy the aircraft or return them to Boeing. The UK committed to upgrading the C-17s in line with the USAF so that in the event of their being returned to Boeing the USAF could adopt them.

The first C-17 was delivered to the RAF at Boeing's Long Beach facility on May 17, 2001 and flown to RAF Brize Norton by a crew from No. 99 Squadron which had previously trained with USAF crews to gain competence on the type. The RAF's fourth C-17 was delivered on August 24, 2001. The RAF aircraft were some of the first to take advantage of the new center wing fuel tank.

The RAF declared itself delighted with the C-17 and reports began to emerge that they wished to retain the aircraft regardless of the A400M's progress. Although the C-17 fleet was to be a fallback for the A400M, the UK announced on July 21, 2004 that they have elected to buy their four C-17s at the end of the lease, even though the A400M is moving towards production. They will also be placing a follow-on order for one aircraft, though there may be additional purchases later. While the A400M is described as a "strategic" airlifter, the C-17 gives the RAF true strategic capabilities that it would not wish to lose, for example a maximum payload of 169,500 lb (77,000 kg) compared to the Airbus' 82,000 lb (37,000 kg).

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on August 4, 2006 that they had ordered an additional C-17 and that the four aircraft on lease will be purchased at the end of the current contract in 2008. The fifth aircraft was delivered on February 22, 2008 and reported for duty on April 7, 2008 at Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire. Due to fears that the A400M may suffer further delays, the MoD is planning to acquire three more C-17s (for a total of eight) for delivery in 2009-2010, provided that the U.S. Air Force places a follow-on order extending through the same time period. On July 26, 2007, Defence Secretary Des Browne announced that the MoD intends to order a sixth C-17 to boost operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. On December 3, 2007, the MoD announced a contract with Boeing for a sixth C-17, which was handed over to the RAF on June 11, 2008.

In RAF service the C-17 has not been given an official designation (e.g. C-130J referred to as Hercules C4 or C5) due to its leased status, but is referred to simply as the C-17. Following the end of the lease period the four aircraft will assume an RAF designation, most likely "Globemaster C1".

Royal Australian Air Force

In late 2005, it was revealed that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was considering the purchase of four C-17s or eight A400Ms for strategic transport. Then Minister for Defence Robert Hill stated that the Australian Defence Force was considering such aircraft due to the limited availability of strategic airlift aircraft from partner nations and air freight companies. The C-17 was considered to be the favorite as it was a "proven aircraft" and was already in production. One major requirement from the RAAF was the ability to airlift the Army's new M1 Abrams main battle tanks; another requirement was immediate delivery. Though unstated, commonality with the USAF and the United Kingdom's RAF was also considered advantageous. The aircraft for the RAAF were ordered directly from the USAF production run, and are identical to American C-17 even in paint scheme, the only difference being the national markings. This allowed delivery to commence within nine months of commitment to the program.

On March 2, 2006 the Australian Government announced the purchase of three aircraft and one option with an entry into service date of 2006. The Australian Government's 2006-07 budget (May 2006) included funding of A$2.2 billion to fund the purchase of three or four C-17s and related spare parts and training equipment. In July 2006 a fixed price contract was awarded to Boeing to deliver four C-17s for US$780m (AUD$1bn).

The Royal Australian Air Force took delivery of its first C-17 in a ceremony at Boeing's plant at Long Beach, California on 29 November 2006. Several days later the aircraft flew from Hickam Air Force Base, Honolulu, Hawaii to Defence Establishment Fairbairn, Canberra, arriving on December 4, 2006. The aircraft was formally accepted in a ceremony at Fairbairn shortly after arrival. The second aircraft was delivered to the RAAF on 11 May 2007 and the third was delivered on December 18, 2007. The fourth Australian C-17 was delivered on 19 January 2008. All the Australian C-17s are operated by No. 36 Squadron and are based at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland.

Canadian Forces

Canada has had a long-standing need for strategic airlift for humanitarian and military operations around the world. The Canadian Forces (CF) had followed a pattern similar to the Luftwaffe in using rented Antonovs and Ilyushins for many of their needs, including deploying the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to tsunami-stricken Sri Lanka in 2005. The CF was forced to rely entirely on leased An-124 Condors for a deployment to Haiti in 2003, as well as a combination of leased Condors, Ilyushins and USAF C-17s for moving heavy equipment into Afghanistan. The Canadian Forces Future Strategic Airlifter Project was initiated in 2002 to study various alternatives, including long-term leasing arrangements.

On July 5, 2006, the Canadian government issued a notice that it intended to negotiate directly with Boeing for the purchase of four airlifters. Then on February 1, 2007 Canada awarded a contract for four C-17s with delivery beginning in August 2007. Like Australia, Canada was granted airframes originally slated for the U.S. Air Force, to accelerate delivery.

On June 16, 2007, the first Canadian C-17 rolled off the assembly line at Long Beach, California and into the paint hangar for painting and addition of Canadian markings including the national logo and air force roundel. The first Canadian C-17 made its initial flight on July 23. It was turned over to Canada on August 8, and participated at the Abbotsford Airshow on August 11 prior to arriving at its new home base at 8 Wing, CFB Trenton, Ontario on August 12. Its first operational mission was delivery of disaster relief to Jamaica in the aftermath of Hurricane Dean. The second C-17 arrived at 8 Wing, CFB Trenton on October 18, 2007. The last of four aircraft was delivered in April 2008. The C-17 is officially designated CC-177 Globemaster III within the Canadian Forces. The aircraft are assigned to 429 Squadron based at CFB Trenton.

Future and potential operators

NATO

The Royal Danish Air Force signed a letter of intent to purchase C-17s on July 19, 2006 at the 2006 Farnborough Airshow to participate in the joint purchase and operation of C-17s within NATO, a program called the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability. A further letter of intent was announced on September 12, 2006 that includes Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and the United States to be part of a larger NATO joint purchase. This purchase would probably be similar to NATO's purchase of the E-3A Sentry. Later on, NATO countries Hungary and Norway, as well as Partner country Sweden also signed the Letter of Intent. Finland has also decided to join the program. The purchase is to be for two C-17s, which will operate in the same fashion as the NATO AWACS aircraft. The AWACS aircraft are jointly manned by crew from various NATO countries.

On May 9, 2008, a Foreign Military Sale Notice was posted at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notifying the US Congress of a possible sale of two C-17s and related equipment worth up to US$700 million. The sale is expected to be completed in June 2008.

To support the two NATO C-17s in the Heavy Airlift Wing to be based at Pápa Air Base in Hungary the United States Air Force will provide an additional aircraft for use by the wing. German Luftwaffe

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and resultant tsunamis placed a strain on the global strategic airlifter pool. The performance of the C-17 in USAF and RAF service has led to Germany considering 2-4 C-17s for the Luftwaffe in a Dry lease arrangement, at least until the A400M is available in 2009. Germany's former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer stated in the German news magazine Der Spiegel that the government needed its own organic strategic transport capability to be able to respond to disasters in a better manner than it was able to for this incident. During the tsunami relief effort, Germany tried to acquire transport through its usual method of wet leasing Antonov airlifters via private companies, but found to its dismay that there were no available aircraft. While the stated goal of a C-17 lease would be to last until the A400M's arrival, the Luftwaffe may elect to retain them. The Luftwaffe acquired meanwhile airlift capacity through the NATO SALIS contract. Swedish Armed Forces

The Swedish Armed Forces have in a spring 2006 budget proposal identified a need for a strategic airlift capability for use with the EU Nordic Battle Group led by Sweden. Repeated reports in the Swedish media suggest that the Armed Forces are lobbying hard for the airlift requirement to be satisfied with the purchase of two C-17s. A request for information on the Swedish Defense Materiel Administration website stated that Sweden must be able to deploy the battle group up to 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km) away with 6000 tons of military equipment, quarter of that being oversized. In late 2006, Sweden signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to join the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability (NSAC). Others

In September 2006, General Paul V. Hester, USAF, commander of the United States Pacific Air Forces, stated that Japan was considering purchasing C-17s to equip the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

Qatar has signed a deal for two C-17ERs for delivery in 2009. Commercial interest

In the mid-1990s, McDonnell Douglas began to market the C-17 to commercial civilian operators, under the name MD-17. Due to its high projected fuel, maintenance and depreciation cost for a low-cycle military design in commercial service, as well as a limited market dominated by the An-124 and A300-600ST, very little interest was expressed. After McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing, the program was renamed BC-17. However, the aircraft received no orders.

In March 2007, Global Heavylift Holdings LLC expressed interest in the purchase of up to thirty new airframes. Another press release by Global Heavylift Holdings a few days later was a little more tame as to their financial backing.

Notable incidents

* On December 10, 2003, a US Air Force C-17 (tail number 98-0057) was hit by a SAM after take-off from Baghdad, Iraq. One engine was disabled and the aircraft returned for a safe landing. The aircraft was repaired and returned to service.

* On August 6, 2005, a US Air Force C-17 (tail number 01-0196) ran off the runway at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan while attempting to land, destroying the airplane's nose and main landing gear, at the time making it the most extensively damaged C-17 to date. It took a Boeing recovery team two months to get the aircraft ready to attempt a flight back to Boeing's Long Beach production facility. The five day flight back to the United States had to be performed by a test pilot, because the temporary repairs done to the aircraft resulted in numerous performance limitations. The aircraft repair was completed at Long Beach in October 2006 and the aircraft has reentered normal operations. The aircraft underwent the Block 16 upgrade in December 2007.

More photos:

C-17 Globemaster III: Up to 50-60 US Army (USA) Rangers jump from a US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III, 62 Airlift Wing (AW)/446th AW, McChord Air Force Base (AFB), Washington (WA), as part of a troop airdrop.C-17 Globemaster III: Up to 50-60 US Army (USA) Rangers jump from a US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III, 62 Airlift Wing (AW)/446th AW, McChord Air Force Base (AFB), Washington (WA), as part of a troop airdrop.

C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft flies a mission in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft flies a mission in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) fly a multi-ship formation during a training airdrop mission near Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC). The formation consisting of twelve aircraft is the largest C-17A formation flown in history.C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) fly a multi-ship formation during a training airdrop mission near Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC). The formation consisting of twelve aircraft is the largest C-17A formation flown in history.

C-17 Globemaster III: A row of US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft await orders to load and launch, from Aviano AB, Italy in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.C-17 Globemaster III: A row of US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft await orders to load and launch, from Aviano AB, Italy in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) in flight during a routing training mission from Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC). The turbulences from the aircraft's engine effects the cloud formation in the background.C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) in flight during a routing training mission from Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC). The turbulences from the aircraft's engine effects the cloud formation in the background.

C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) Airmen of the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS) load two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters from the 66th Rescue Squadron (RS) into a C-17A Globemaster III at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV). The Globemaster, Spirit of Connecticut, 62nd Airlift Wing (AW)/446 AW, McChord AFB, Washington (WA), is at Nellis AFB picking up members of the 66th Rescue Squadron (RS), 58th RS, and the 757th AMXS and their equipment for a deployment to an undisclosed location.C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) Airmen of the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS) load two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters from the 66th Rescue Squadron (RS) into a C-17A Globemaster III at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV). The Globemaster, Spirit of Connecticut, 62nd Airlift Wing (AW)/446 AW, McChord AFB, Washington (WA), is at Nellis AFB picking up members of the 66th Rescue Squadron (RS), 58th RS, and the 757th AMXS and their equipment for a deployment to an undisclosed location.

C-17 Globemaster III: At Aviano Air Base (AB), Italy, a US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III takes off destined for McChord Air Force Base (AFB), Washington.C-17 Globemaster III: At Aviano Air Base (AB), Italy, a US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III takes off destined for McChord Air Force Base (AFB), Washington.

C-17 Globemaster III: A row of US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft are prepared for flight operations at staging area in Europe, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The aircraft with airdrop USAF paratroopers from the 86th Expeditionary Contingency Response Group, and US Army (USA) Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, to secure and prepare Bashur Airfield, Iraq, for flight operations, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.C-17 Globemaster III: A row of US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft are prepared for flight operations at staging area in Europe, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The aircraft with airdrop USAF paratroopers from the 86th Expeditionary Contingency Response Group, and US Army (USA) Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, to secure and prepare Bashur Airfield, Iraq, for flight operations, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III from McCord Air Force Base (AFB), Connecticut (CT), arrives at Selfridge Air Force Base to pick up personnel and cargo who are deploying to an unknown location in Southwest Asia.C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III from McCord Air Force Base (AFB), Connecticut (CT), arrives at Selfridge Air Force Base to pick up personnel and cargo who are deploying to an unknown location in Southwest Asia.

C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft flies over Avon Park Air Range, Florida (FL), after air dropping personnel with the Airborne Red Horse (ARH) in support of Exercise Safe Flag.C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft flies over Avon Park Air Range, Florida (FL), after air dropping personnel with the Airborne Red Horse (ARH) in support of Exercise Safe Flag.

C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) personnel with Airborne Red Horse (ARH) and the 820th Security Forces Group (SFG) parachute 1500-feet from a USAF C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft onto the Avon Park Air Range, Florida (FL) in order to repair a damaged runway during Exercise Safe Flag.C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) personnel with Airborne Red Horse (ARH) and the 820th Security Forces Group (SFG) parachute 1500-feet from a USAF C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft onto the Avon Park Air Range, Florida (FL) in order to repair a damaged runway during Exercise Safe Flag.

C-17 Globemaster III: A U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft with the 3rd Airlift Squadron arrives at Dover Air Force Base, Del., March 14, 2007, following its final flight. The squadron is transitioning to the C-17 Globemaster aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jason Minto) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft with the 3rd Airlift Squadron arrives at Dover Air Force Base, Del., March 14, 2007, following its final flight. The squadron is transitioning to the C-17 Globemaster aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jason Minto) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III, 15th Airlift Squadron (AS), Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC), arrives at Cherbourg Air Field, France (FRA). The C-17 brought in paratroopers of the US Army (USA) 82nd Airborne to participate in ceremonies commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion of World War II (WWII).C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III, 15th Airlift Squadron (AS), Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC), arrives at Cherbourg Air Field, France (FRA). The C-17 brought in paratroopers of the US Army (USA) 82nd Airborne to participate in ceremonies commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion of World War II (WWII).

C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) Red Horse paratroopers from Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC), jump from a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft during the 2004 Airpower over Hampton Roads Airshow at Langley Air Force Base (AFB), Virginia (VA).C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) Red Horse paratroopers from Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC), jump from a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft during the 2004 Airpower over Hampton Roads Airshow at Langley Air Force Base (AFB), Virginia (VA).

C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III cargo aircraft, 437th Airlift Wing (AW), Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC), and 62nd AW, McChord AFB, Washington (WA), parked at Cherbourg, France (FRA), ready for a 16 aircraft paratroop drop for a ceremony marking the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day Normandy invasion during World War II (WWII).C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III cargo aircraft, 437th Airlift Wing (AW), Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC), and 62nd AW, McChord AFB, Washington (WA), parked at Cherbourg, France (FRA), ready for a 16 aircraft paratroop drop for a ceremony marking the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day Normandy invasion during World War II (WWII).

C-17 Globemaster III: A pallet of cargo is extracted from the cargo compartment of a USAF C-17A Globemaster III aircraft during an airdrop training mission over North Auxiliary Air Field, at Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC). A second C-17A aircraft is visible in the background.C-17 Globemaster III: A pallet of cargo is extracted from the cargo compartment of a USAF C-17A Globemaster III aircraft during an airdrop training mission over North Auxiliary Air Field, at Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC). A second C-17A aircraft is visible in the background.

C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) 62nd Airlift Wing (AW) C-17A Globemaster III cargo aircraft, from McChord Air Force Base (AFB), Washington (WA), sits on the tarmac at McGuire AFB, New Jersey (NJ), after a rainstorm. The 62nd AW has transferred 11 C-17A aircraft to McGuire AFB due to an estimated three-month construction on the McChord AFB flight line.C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) 62nd Airlift Wing (AW) C-17A Globemaster III cargo aircraft, from McChord Air Force Base (AFB), Washington (WA), sits on the tarmac at McGuire AFB, New Jersey (NJ), after a rainstorm. The 62nd AW has transferred 11 C-17A aircraft to McGuire AFB due to an estimated three-month construction on the McChord AFB flight line.

C-17 Globemaster III: An extraction chute deploys from the cargo compartment of a USAF C-17A Globemaster III aircraft during an airdrop training mission over North Auxiliary Air Field, at Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC). A second C-17A aircraft is visible in the background.C-17 Globemaster III: An extraction chute deploys from the cargo compartment of a USAF C-17A Globemaster III aircraft during an airdrop training mission over North Auxiliary Air Field, at Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC). A second C-17A aircraft is visible in the background.

C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Tom Clayton (pilot) and USAF Major (MAJ) Dave Deames, both assigned to the 300th Air Lift Squadron (AS), pilot their USAF C-17A Globemaster III aircraft, towards the extended refueling probe of a USAF Ohio Air National Guard (OHANG) KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from the 121st Air Refueling Wing (ARW), during a refueling mission near Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC).C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Tom Clayton (pilot) and USAF Major (MAJ) Dave Deames, both assigned to the 300th Air Lift Squadron (AS), pilot their USAF C-17A Globemaster III aircraft, towards the extended refueling probe of a USAF Ohio Air National Guard (OHANG) KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from the 121st Air Refueling Wing (ARW), during a refueling mission near Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC).

C-17 Globemaster III: 040824-F-2233S-002 (Aug. 24, 2004) A US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft from the 62nd Airlift Wing (AW), McChord Air Force Base (AFB), Washington (WA), releases Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) flares as it makes a turn during a training mission at Bollen Range located at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania (PA). U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matt Schwartz (RELEASED)C-17 Globemaster III: 040824-F-2233S-002 (Aug. 24, 2004) A US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft from the 62nd Airlift Wing (AW), McChord Air Force Base (AFB), Washington (WA), releases Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) flares as it makes a turn during a training mission at Bollen Range located at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania (PA). U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matt Schwartz (RELEASED)

C-17 Globemaster III: 040824-F-2233S-001 (Aug. 24, 2004) A US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft from the 62nd Airlift Wing (AW), McChord Air Force Base (AFB), Washington (WA), releases Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) flares during a training mission over the Bollen Range located at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania (PA). U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matt Schwartz (RELEASED)C-17 Globemaster III: 040824-F-2233S-001 (Aug. 24, 2004) A US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft from the 62nd Airlift Wing (AW), McChord Air Force Base (AFB), Washington (WA), releases Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) flares during a training mission over the Bollen Range located at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania (PA). U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matt Schwartz (RELEASED)

C-17 Globemaster III: 040829-F-5677R-006 (Aug. 29, 2004) Several C-17 Globemaster IIIs deployed from the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) at Charleston AFB, South Carolina (SC), sit on the flight line at Mac Dill Air Force Base Florida (FL). The 437th AW has been forced to temporarily move from their home base at Charleston AFB, SC because of Hurricane Gaston. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jason Robertson (RELEASED)C-17 Globemaster III: 040829-F-5677R-006 (Aug. 29, 2004) Several C-17 Globemaster IIIs deployed from the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) at Charleston AFB, South Carolina (SC), sit on the flight line at Mac Dill Air Force Base Florida (FL). The 437th AW has been forced to temporarily move from their home base at Charleston AFB, SC because of Hurricane Gaston. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jason Robertson (RELEASED)

C-17 Globemaster III: 040828-F-9209C-004 (Aug. 28, 2004) A C-17 Globemaster III deployed from the 437th Airlift Wing (WG) at Charleston AFB, South Carolina (SC), powers down its engines after arriving at MacDill AFB Florida (FL), as Hurricane Gaston prepares to pass near Chaleston AFB, SC. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Chisholm (RELEASED)C-17 Globemaster III: 040828-F-9209C-004 (Aug. 28, 2004) A C-17 Globemaster III deployed from the 437th Airlift Wing (WG) at Charleston AFB, South Carolina (SC), powers down its engines after arriving at MacDill AFB Florida (FL), as Hurricane Gaston prepares to pass near Chaleston AFB, SC. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Chisholm (RELEASED)

C-17 Globemaster III: 040829-F-9209C-004 (Aug. 29, 2004) Sixteen US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster IIIs deployed from the 437th Airlift Wing (AW), Charleston AFB, South Carolina (SC) wait in two lines at MacDill AFB, Florida (FL) after Hurricane Gaston passes north of Charleston, SC. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Chisholm (RELEASED)C-17 Globemaster III: 040829-F-9209C-004 (Aug. 29, 2004) Sixteen US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster IIIs deployed from the 437th Airlift Wing (AW), Charleston AFB, South Carolina (SC) wait in two lines at MacDill AFB, Florida (FL) after Hurricane Gaston passes north of Charleston, SC. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Chisholm (RELEASED)

C-17 Globemaster III: 040829-F-5677R-003 (Aug. 29, 2004) Several C-17 Globemaster IIIs deployed from the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) at Charleston AFB, South Carolina (SC), sit on the flight line at Mac Dill Air Force Base Florida (FL). The 437th AW has been forced to temporarily move from their home base at Charleston AFB, SC because of Hurricane Gaston. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jason Robertson (RELEASED)C-17 Globemaster III: 040829-F-5677R-003 (Aug. 29, 2004) Several C-17 Globemaster IIIs deployed from the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) at Charleston AFB, South Carolina (SC), sit on the flight line at Mac Dill Air Force Base Florida (FL). The 437th AW has been forced to temporarily move from their home base at Charleston AFB, SC because of Hurricane Gaston. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jason Robertson (RELEASED)

C-17 Globemaster III: US Army (USA) Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division (AD) jump from a US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft onto Landing Zone Sicily at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (NC), during Joint Forcible Entry Exercise (JEFX).C-17 Globemaster III: US Army (USA) Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division (AD) jump from a US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft onto Landing Zone Sicily at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (NC), during Joint Forcible Entry Exercise (JEFX).

C-17 Globemaster III: US Army (USA) Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division (AD) jump from a US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft onto Landing Zone Sicily at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (NC), during Joint Forcible Entry Exercise (JEFX).C-17 Globemaster III: US Army (USA) Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division (AD) jump from a US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft onto Landing Zone Sicily at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (NC), during Joint Forcible Entry Exercise (JEFX).

C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III takes off with Mount St. Helens in the background during Operation Wildfire. Operation Wildfire simulates a mortar and chemical attack at a simulated deployed location. The exercise helps prepare McChord Airmen for counter-chemical warfare conflict operations.C-17 Globemaster III: A US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III takes off with Mount St. Helens in the background during Operation Wildfire. Operation Wildfire simulates a mortar and chemical attack at a simulated deployed location. The exercise helps prepare McChord Airmen for counter-chemical warfare conflict operations.

C-17 Globemaster III: US Army (USA) 82nd Airborne Division (AD) Soldiers jump from a US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III, Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC), on Normandy Range at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (NC), during the Joint Forcible Entry Exercise (JFEX). The joint airdrop exercise is designed to enhance service cohesiveness between the USA and USAF. JFEX gives both services an opportunity to execute large-scale heavy equipment and troop movement.C-17 Globemaster III: US Army (USA) 82nd Airborne Division (AD) Soldiers jump from a US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III, Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC), on Normandy Range at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (NC), during the Joint Forcible Entry Exercise (JFEX). The joint airdrop exercise is designed to enhance service cohesiveness between the USA and USAF. JFEX gives both services an opportunity to execute large-scale heavy equipment and troop movement.

C-17 Globemaster III: Members of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) and the traveling press work diligently around the "Silver Bullet," an Airstream trailer serving as an airborne command center, on board the US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III in flight over Iraq.C-17 Globemaster III: Members of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) and the traveling press work diligently around the "Silver Bullet," an Airstream trailer serving as an airborne command center, on board the US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III in flight over Iraq.

C-17 Globemaster III: Part of a 16 ship formation of US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster IIIs in flight from Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC), to Biggs Army Air Field, Texas (TX), for Composite Force Operations (CFO) exercise, a USAF Mobility Weapons School weapons instructor course. The course employs realistic scenarios tasking students to plan and execute airdrop and air refueling operations in a dynamic, mature theater.C-17 Globemaster III: Part of a 16 ship formation of US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster IIIs in flight from Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), South Carolina (SC), to Biggs Army Air Field, Texas (TX), for Composite Force Operations (CFO) exercise, a USAF Mobility Weapons School weapons instructor course. The course employs realistic scenarios tasking students to plan and execute airdrop and air refueling operations in a dynamic, mature theater.

C-17 Globemaster III: A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, 305th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., prepares to depart after an aerial refueling from a KC-10A Extender, 514th Air Mobility Wing, May 25, 2005, somewhere over New Jersey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenn Mann) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, 305th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., prepares to depart after an aerial refueling from a KC-10A Extender, 514th Air Mobility Wing, May 25, 2005, somewhere over New Jersey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenn Mann) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, 305th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., approaches a KC-10A Extender, 514th Air Mobility Wing, May 25, 2005, for an aerial refueling mission somewhere over New Jersey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenn Mann) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, 305th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., approaches a KC-10A Extender, 514th Air Mobility Wing, May 25, 2005, for an aerial refueling mission somewhere over New Jersey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenn Mann) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: Aerial of a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft, 305th Air Mobility Wing (AMW), McGuire Air Force Base (AFB), departs after taking on fuel from an aerial tanker during a training mission over New Jersey (NJ).C-17 Globemaster III: Aerial of a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft, 305th Air Mobility Wing (AMW), McGuire Air Force Base (AFB), departs after taking on fuel from an aerial tanker during a training mission over New Jersey (NJ).

C-17 Globemaster III: Three US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft offload tons of equipment at Kessler Air Force Base (AFB), Mississippi (MS), for use in support of relief operations. Department of Defense (DOD) units are mobilizing as part of Joint Task Force (JTF) Katrina to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster-relief efforts in the Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.C-17 Globemaster III: Three US Air Force (USAF) C-17A Globemaster III aircraft offload tons of equipment at Kessler Air Force Base (AFB), Mississippi (MS), for use in support of relief operations. Department of Defense (DOD) units are mobilizing as part of Joint Task Force (JTF) Katrina to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster-relief efforts in the Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) Loadmasters from the 97th Air Mobility Wing (AMW), Air Education and Training Command (AETC), Altus Air Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma (OK), release cargo over a drop zone showcasing a procedure called the dual-row airdrop from a USAF C-17A Globemaster III.C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) Loadmasters from the 97th Air Mobility Wing (AMW), Air Education and Training Command (AETC), Altus Air Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma (OK), release cargo over a drop zone showcasing a procedure called the dual-row airdrop from a USAF C-17A Globemaster III.

C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III Cargo Aircraft, assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) and the 315th AW, fly over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, in Charleston South Carolina (SC), as part of the largest formation of aircraft deployed from a single base to demonstrate the US Air ForceÕs strategic airlift and airdrop capabilities.C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III Cargo Aircraft, assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) and the 315th AW, fly over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, in Charleston South Carolina (SC), as part of the largest formation of aircraft deployed from a single base to demonstrate the US Air ForceÕs strategic airlift and airdrop capabilities.

C-17 Globemaster III: A U.S. Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft turns on its final approach to March Air Reserve Base, Calif., on Oct. 18, 2005. The Globemaster is replacing the C-141 Starlifter aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Kimble) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A U.S. Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft turns on its final approach to March Air Reserve Base, Calif., on Oct. 18, 2005. The Globemaster is replacing the C-141 Starlifter aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Kimble) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17A Globemaster III aircraft from the 729th Airlift Squadron performs an aerial demonstration during the air show AirFest 2006 at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., April 29, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Rick Sforza) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17A Globemaster III aircraft from the 729th Airlift Squadron performs an aerial demonstration during the air show AirFest 2006 at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., April 29, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Rick Sforza) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft arrives at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii Feb. 8, 2006, as a part of a landing ceremony to celebrate the first of eight aircraft scheduled to be assigned to the 535th Airlift Squadron. The 204th Airlift Squadron, Hawaii Air National Guard, and the 535th Airlift Squadron from Pacific Air Forces, will work together as an associate unit to fly and maintain the C-17 Globemaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kristen Higgins) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft arrives at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii Feb. 8, 2006, as a part of a landing ceremony to celebrate the first of eight aircraft scheduled to be assigned to the 535th Airlift Squadron. The 204th Airlift Squadron, Hawaii Air National Guard, and the 535th Airlift Squadron from Pacific Air Forces, will work together as an associate unit to fly and maintain the C-17 Globemaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kristen Higgins) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III Cargo Aircraft, assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) and the 315th AW, fly over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia (VA), as part of the largest formation of aircraft deployed from a single base to demonstrate the US Air ForceÕs strategic airlift and airdrop capabilities.C-17 Globemaster III: US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III Cargo Aircraft, assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing (AW) and the 315th AW, fly over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia (VA), as part of the largest formation of aircraft deployed from a single base to demonstrate the US Air ForceÕs strategic airlift and airdrop capabilities.

C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17A Globemaster III aircraft from the 729th Airlift Squadron performs an aerial demonstration during the air show AirFest 2006 at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., April 29, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Rick Sforza) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17A Globemaster III aircraft from the 729th Airlift Squadron performs an aerial demonstration during the air show AirFest 2006 at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., April 29, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Rick Sforza) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: Two F-15C Eagle aircraft from the 60th Fighter Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., escort a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, right, from the 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston AFB, S.C., as they fly over the USS Yorktown (CV 5) and Arthur J. Ravenel Jr. Bridge during a local exercise over Charleston May 16, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: Two F-15C Eagle aircraft from the 60th Fighter Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., escort a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, right, from the 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston AFB, S.C., as they fly over the USS Yorktown (CV 5) and Arthur J. Ravenel Jr. Bridge during a local exercise over Charleston May 16, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., releases flares over the Atlantic Ocean during a local exercise over the Charleston, S.C., area May 16, 2006. The "smoke angel" is caused by the vortex from the engine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., releases flares over the Atlantic Ocean during a local exercise over the Charleston, S.C., area May 16, 2006. The "smoke angel" is caused by the vortex from the engine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: A U.S. Air Force loadmaster from the 452nd Airlift Wing guides Los Angeles County Fire Department Search and Rescue emergency equipment onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Port Hueneme, Calif., for exercise Patriot Hook June 10, 2006. The five-day exercise allows for military personnel from the 146th Airlift Wing, Channel Islands Air National Guard Station and government agencies to train on a variety of disaster response scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Rod Thornburg) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A U.S. Air Force loadmaster from the 452nd Airlift Wing guides Los Angeles County Fire Department Search and Rescue emergency equipment onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Port Hueneme, Calif., for exercise Patriot Hook June 10, 2006. The five-day exercise allows for military personnel from the 146th Airlift Wing, Channel Islands Air National Guard Station and government agencies to train on a variety of disaster response scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Rod Thornburg) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., releases flares over the Atlantic Ocean during a local exercise over Charleston, S.C., May 16, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., releases flares over the Atlantic Ocean during a local exercise over Charleston, S.C., May 16, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., leaves a smoke trail after releasing flares over the Atlantic Ocean during a local exercise over Charleston, S.C., May 16, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., leaves a smoke trail after releasing flares over the Atlantic Ocean during a local exercise over Charleston, S.C., May 16, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV) (Released)

C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft taxis onto a parking ramp at Balad Air Base, Iraq, July 12, 2006, after flying a mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Globemaster is used to transport cargo and military personal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Oquendo) (Released)C-17 Globemaster III: A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft taxis onto a parking ramp at Balad Air Base, Iraq, July 12, 2006, after flying a mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Globemaster is used to transport cargo and military personal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Oquendo) (Released)

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