Military cargo planes are not big or sexy, but they're arguably just as important as headline-grabbing fighter jets and bombers. For nearly 25 years, the C-17 Globemaster has been a huge part of the US military's logistical abilities, and now, it's officially out of production.
The final C-17 rolled out of Boeing's Long Beach, CA factory on Sunday to cheers from the assembled workers. Since entering production in 1991, the SoCal factory has built 275 of the mammoth cargo haulers, with this final aircraft slated for delivery to the Qatar Emiri Air Force in 2016. The largest buyer of the C-17, of course, is the US Air Force, which fields 223 of the nearly $220-million aircraft. Great Britain, Australia, the UAE, India, and Kuwait all fly C-17s, as well.
"This is truly the end of an era. It's a sad day, but one that all of the Boeing employees and suppliers who have worked over the years building this great aircraft can be proud of," said C-17 Program Manager Nan Bouchard. "Our team's work and dedication and professionalism created one of the world's leading airlifters, a plane that is at the forefront for providing humanitarian aid and has changed the way the U.S. Air Force and our international partners mobilize for operations and aeromedical support."
While this is the last C-17, the plane isn't going away. Much like the propeller-driven C-130 Hercules, which has remained in service for over 60 years, the Globemaster likely has decades of service left.
Long Beach's #C17FlyBye commemorates aircraft's legacy.
C-17 global fleet support, maintenance and upgrades continue.
LONG BEACH, Calif., Nov. 29, 2015 – The final Boeing [NYSE: BA] C-17 Globemaster III military airlifter at the company's plant in Long Beach, Calif. departed on Sunday, Nov. 29, marking the official end of aircraft production in Long Beach.
The airlifter flew over a crowd and the facility before heading to the company's San Antonio location, where it will remain until delivery to the Qatar Emiri Air Force early in 2016.
With the completion of C-17 production, Boeing will continue the Globemaster III legacy, providing support, maintenance and upgrades to the worldwide C-17 fleet under the C-17 Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP) Performance-Based Logistics agreement.
"This is truly the end of an era. It's a sad day, but one that all of the Boeing employees and suppliers who have worked over the years building this great aircraft can be proud of," said Nan Bouchard, vice president and C-17 program manager.
"Our team's work and dedication and professionalism created one of the world's leading airlifters, a plane that is at the forefront for providing humanitarian aid and has changed the way the U.S. Air Force and our international partners mobilize for operations and aeromedical support," Bouchard said.
The decision to end production of the C-17 production program was announced in 2013. Since the first C-17 took to the air on Sept. 15, 1991, the C-17 fleets for the U.S. Air Force and international partners have amassed more than three million flying hours supporting airlift of troops and large cargo, precision airdrop of humanitarian supplies and lifesaving aeromedical missions.
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