C-17 Adds Orders on Talent, Not Luck
DID has offered a lot of C-17 coverage recently, including the Lexington Institute’s scathing characterization of the impending production line shutdown as “The Dumbest Weapons Decision of the Decade” as well as international orders by NATO (13-nation pool), Australia, Britain, and Canada. Past coverage has also included the Talent-Lieberman bill, which passed in the Senate as part of Congressional efforts to keep C-17 production alive and fund a larger fleet than the reduced figure of 180 aircraft that the Pentagon was willing to settle for. Now Senator Talent [R-MO] announced that he has secured funding for a total of 10 more C-17s in the Senate-House Defense Appropriations Conference Report for FY 2007. This $2.1 billion addition will be popular back home, as the C-17 supply chain and production lines include several thousand workers in Missouri. See Sen. Talent’s release.
The Pentagon was going to request 8 planes to finish up production, and initial talk was for another 3 to provide extra replacements given the fleet’s accelerated wear. This new bill adds 7 more planes to make 18, bringing the US fleet to 191 (Sen. Talent also secured $227.5 million for the purchase of an additional C-17 aircraft in the 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act). Foreign production (4 Australia, 5 Britain, 4 Canada, 4 NATO) will bring the lifetime production total to about 208, though there aren’t all that many more foreign customer expected. With new orders set at 32 more planes (1+8+10+4+1+4+4), the Long Beach, CA plant has just over 2 more years of production left before its closure. This stretches its shut-down date from mid-2008 to early 2009.