Boeing today directed its C-17 program subcontractors to “stop work on uncommitted airplanes,” saying the company “can’t continue carrying the program without additional orders from the US government. (Boeing has spent its own money for more than a year to sustain the production line while the Pentagon sorted out its mobility requirements.) Yesterday NATO military chief, Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, said (see below) that the alliance expects to extend a buy order next month for eight of the new airlifters. However, Boeing says that international orders and commitments and the three additional C-17s included in the yet-to-be finalized 2007 DOD budget “are not enough to sustain continued production beyond mid-2009.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.