The Air Force has upped the number of C-17 airlifters that it has on order with Boeing to 205 with the award of a $2.95 billion contract for 15 more on Feb. 6. (DOD announcement) Boeing’s C-17 spokesman Jerry Drelling told the Daily Report yesterday that the new order will keep C-17s coming off the company’s production line in Long Beach, Calif., until at least August 2010. To date, Boeing has delivered 183 C-17s to the Air Force and a total of 14 to Australia, Britain, and Canada, Drelling said. While senior Air Force officials have stated that they do not intend to seek additional C-17s beyond 205, support for the aircraft remains strong in Congress. And, the Obama Administration’s defense agenda characterizes the aircraft as one of USAF’s “essential systems” that provide the backbone of global power projection and hints, perhaps, at a desire for more. Boeing is also building C-17s for NATO and Qatar and continues to aggressively market the airlifter overseas and is seeing international interest, Drelling said.
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.