Getting a Few More C-17s

The conference report for the 2008 defense policy bill includes eight additional C-17 airlifters. If passed and signed into law, the measure would bring the total number of C-17s to 198, short by seven aircraft of the number cited last week by US Transportation Command boss Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz. He expressed concern over the uncertainties with the C-5 modernization program and said he thinks the right mix is 205 C-17s and 111 C-5s. A top Boeing official said recently that he expects to see at least 10 new C-17s included in the 2008 war supplemental. If that comes to pass, the total number of C-17s would reach 208, still short of the 222 aircraft that USAF and others supported prior to 9/11. And, since then, the increased wear and tear on current C-17s is taking a toll and the ground force is growing.