House authorizers have added $299.8 million and redirected another $389.6 million for the Air Force to purchase three additional C-17s in 2007. The Administration’s 2007 budget proposal would have capped C-17 acquisition at 180 airframes and put money toward shutdown and mothballing of production components. However, Air Force leaders told Congress that the service needed seven more C-17s—listing that as their No. 1 unfunded priority—to offset losses from wear and tear. The production line is not slated to close until 2008, so presumably there is time for lawmakers to fund the other four—and possibly more? There seems to be some question as to whether the Mobility Capabilities Study identified 180 C-17s as the appropriate number based on need or a tight budget.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.