Cargo Twilight

USAF plans to end C-17 production in fiscal 2007, at the 180th airplane, and to wrap up the C-130J in fiscal 2008, at the 79th aircraft. The new budget proposal includes $2.9 billion to cover the last C-17 and shut down of production and storage of tooling “off-site” from its Long Beach, Calif., plant—just in case more are needed later, Maj. Gen. Frank Faykes said. USAF proposes to retire the majority of the C-130E fleet. Except for the Light Cargo Aircraft—an undefined project to supply far-flung troops and provide ship-to-shore ferrying—there’s no concrete effort to start a new airlifter—strategic or otherwise—in the five-year plan, despite the fact that new aircraft typically take at least 15 years to reach the production stage. The Pentagon plans to move more cargo by sea and by contracted airfreight and passenger service.