After a week of being at the center of Capitol Hill hearings, the C-17 fleet has provided direct evidence of the reason it now has awakened concern among USAF leaders—it has reached one million flying hours only 15 years after being commissioned. According to Air Mobility Command, since September 2001, the C-17 fleet has flown 59 percent more hours—approximately 358,000 more—than was anticipated. And, it has done it while maintaining an 84.7 percent mission capable rate. AMC equates the feat to “one aircraft flying every minute of every day for more than 114 years without stopping.” AMC says an aeromedical flight by the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 172nd Airlift Wing from Iraq to Ramstein AB, Germany, will fly the one-millionth hour. The aircrew for the March 19 flight will comprise active duty, ANG, Air Force Reserve Command, and British Royal Air Force personnel.
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.