Boeing officials cast doubt on the future of the production line for USAF’s C-17 cargo aircraft during this week’s AFA Air & Space Conference, saying the company will begin in January shutting down the line for the aircraft if there is no firm commitment from the Air Force by the end of the year to buy more than the currently planned 180. The aircraft’s program manager, David Bowman, told reporters at a briefing that the company is facing some “tough decisions.” One big problem is that the Pentagon has been dragging its heels on the new Mobility Capabilities Study. A similar study done just prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, noted a severe shortage of airlift. Matters have only gotten worse. (Read our report here.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.