C-17 Post-Production: The Long Goodbye
In July 2012, Boeing in Long Beach, CA received a $500 million contract for the orderly transfer of the manufacturing assets and data used to produce the C-17A Globemaster III heavy transport, once production ends. Work will be performed in Long Beach, CA by July 5/22. The ASC/WLMK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract (FA8614-12-D-2049, Order 0001).
The USAF recently issued its final expected order for a 224th aircraft, as a replacement for a C-17 that crashed in July 2010. Beyond those buys, export orders to customers like India, and additional orders from Australia and Britain are extending the production line. At some point, that will end. When it does end, the line will close, but the US military wants to be able to restart C-17 production if it becomes necessary at some future date. Production restarts are always expensive, and there’s always a learning curve because it involves a lot of new people. Restarts become even more expensive, and much more difficult, if post-production contracts like this one aren’t issued when the line shuts down. The cost of such contracts makes them a step that isn’t taken lightly, but some programs are important enough to justify the insurance value.